I have been asked to speak today on Elder Christofferson’s Oct 2015 General Conf talk called “Why the Church”. He poses the question “Why did Jesus Christ choose this church, His church, to carry out His and His father’s work?”
I believe our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ must be extremely organized, methodical, and disciplined. After all, they created the universe and every life form down to microscopic elements. They were created not only for function but to enhance our joy and beautify the earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ is part of their creation process and since they are wise and all-knowing, they chose a means to deliver the gospel in a way that was organized, methodical and disciplined as well.
So-How does Christ’s church accomplish the father’s will?
It establishes the Father’s will by bringing souls across the globe unto Christ through gospel knowledge, access to ongoing revelation from God, and community fellowship including caring for the poor and needy.
In order to follow Christ, we must learn of Him and share our gospel truths with others. Elder Christofferson said, “Jesus organized His work in such a way that the gospel could be established simultaneously in multiple nations and among diverse peoples. That organization, the Church of Jesus Christ, was founded on “apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”
As an organized church devoted to Christ, we send missionaries throughout the world to share the good news of His gospel. We are incredibly blessed to have a prophet of God and apostles whom we trust -to relay spiritual messages, teachings, and warnings the Lord wants us to hear. This ongoing revelatory communication from God ensures we know what is expected of us. We are taught the Lord’s commandments, and we learn and practice charity, sacrifice, and how to minister to others.
On a grander scale, the organization of Christ’s church is necessary in order to maintain its growth internationally and have the capability of helping more of God’s children who are in need all over the world. Collectively, members contribute donations that sustain church buildings and temple construction, provide disaster relief, and work tirelessly to furnish food and supplies to meet the needs of those less fortunate. Belonging to this great work, we serve to continue establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.
Elder Christofferson goes on to say, “God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. His desire is that we continue “from grace to grace, until [we receive] a fulness” of all He can give. That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and of the Spirit, and enduring in faith to the end. One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.”
I have known people who say they are spiritual and don’t need a church to make good choices or treat others well. That is somewhat true. We have agency here on earth to choose how we act and react to life situations and others we come in contact with. And certainly, we are all gifted with the light of Christ which enables us to make great decisions and be kind and gracious to others. However, the gospel of Jesus Christ gifts us with potential exponential growth individually and collectively as we strive to follow His teachings. When we pray, fast, and spend quality time with each other as a community of saints, we ultimately learn to love as He did. We begin to view others and ourselves as the Lord does, with immeasurable worth. When we follow the teachings of Christ, we become converted to Him and His gospel.
Deuteronomy 29:29 reads:
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Reflecting on this topic more I started to think about the word belong. We belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Webster's dictionary noun definition of belonging is “an affinity for a place or situation”. The verb definition is “to be a member or part of a particular group or organization.” Heavenly Father wants all His children to desire to be a part of His group, and to have an affinity for sacred covenants that will bring us back to Him where we belong.
I am certain most of you have participated in a group project at some point in your life. Maybe school, work, or even a church event. In school, I used to hate group projects. I felt like I was the only one who cared about the project and ultimately did the most work. Work group projects can be cutthroat as each person strives to make themselves stand out to their peers or employers to receive accolades. Church group activities and fellowship thankfully —usually—do not have these problems because we all have our central focus on Christ. So church attendance and participation to me is like a lifetime group project that I don’t hate! In fact, this group project has blessed my life. I have learned that when we truly work as united saints, the burden is lighter, the joy more full, and the experience gained is magnificent. Our many differing opinions, cultures, experiences, and personalities teach us so much more than we could on our own. With our central goal of returning to our heavenly home one day with as many loved ones as we can, we are able to better reach that by working together, unified. We all serve in different positions in this church which allows us to develop talents and progress. One of my favorite positions I have served in this church is teaching Primary. I love my primary class this year, Malia, Evie, Maggie, Cici, and Cameron. I am amazed by their faith and testimony of the Savior. I also appreciate the opportunity to teach with the one and only Sis. Garnet. When these primary kids sing the Spirit is so strong it is tangible. What a gift it is to serve in Primary!
On this subject Elder Christofferson stated, “In the Church, we not only learn divine doctrine; we also experience its application. As the body of Christ, the members of the Church minister to one another in the reality of day-to-day life. All of us are imperfect; we may offend and be offended. We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies. In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have a real “hands-on” experience as we learn to “live together in love.”
We cannot reach our greatest potential alone. There are too many observations, lessons, and knowledge to be gained from our interactions within this community of saints at church. In this lifelong group project, we all are tasked with bringing our own souls to Christ and also gathering as many others as we can into the fold. Elder Christofferson said that we as members are “like the body of Christ-his eyes, ears, hands, and feet” as we serve, love, and care for one another.
Elder Christofferson asked, “Why did Jesus Christ choose this church, His church, to carry out His and His father’s work?”
He chose this church to carry out His and His father’s work so that all souls would have access to the knowledge of the Gospel through the organization of a global church. Additionally, its members could receive ongoing revelatory communication with God through His chosen prophet. Finally, we can learn to live together and serve in love as a community of saints.
It is my prayer that we will all eagerly strive and desire to participate in this eternal group project of coming unto Christ through His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I’d like to bear my testimony of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. They established this church so that we would know who we belong to and how we can return to them. I love the new youth themes that begin with “I am a beloved son or daughter of God…” I know that if we can all remember that simple phrase it will be easier to withstand the challenges of this life. We are beloved, we are needed, and we are wanted. I believe the Savior knew He could redeem us but also knew we would need to save each other too. I am very grateful for the angels in this ward who have shown kindness, generosity, and love toward my family and me. I know the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ and that we will grow closer to Him by reading it often. I know that Russel M Nelson is a prophet of God and is the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth. I know this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true church.
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.