LDS general conference: Stand fast, love others

LDS exhorted not to lose sight of what's important

Published: Monday, Oct. 6 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Conference attendees gather around the reflecting pool near the Salt Lake Temple after a conference session Sunday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Though contentions against and criticisms of the LDS Church may arise, its members should avoid pride, seek unity, defend their faith with love, serve others, be virtuous and, though life changes should be expected, they shouldn't lose sight of what's important.

That's what Jesus would do.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were told to develop those, among other Christ-like attributes, during the church's 178th Semiannual General Conference on Sunday morning.

Church President Thomas S. Monson reminded members that stresses will come no matter what.

"We must deal with them the best we can," he said. "But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important — and what is always most important almost always involves the people around us. Often, we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know."

"Despite the changes which come into our lives, and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days — as much as we can — with those things which matter most," President Monson said.

During the past two decades, the church has experienced an unprecedented prominence in the worldwide community of faith, said Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

"Probably not coincidentally, we have also experienced unprecedented ideological attacks on our people, our history and our doctrine through the media," he said.

Some wonder why the church does not more vigorously defend itself, said fellow apostle Elder Robert D. Hales.

But the members of the church have the ability to respond to criticisms and accusations and should do so through prayer and following the example of Jesus Christ.

"When we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christ-like, we invite others to feel his love and follow him as well," Elder Hales said.

Each circumstance will be different. True disciples of Jesus Christ seek guidance from the Spirit, respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord, are concerned with others' welfare, avoid being unduly judgmental of others' views, speak with quiet confidence and sometimes show courage by saying nothing at all, he said.

Even negative publicity about the church can present opportunities to present the truth, Elder Hales said.

"We can take advantage of such opportunities in many ways: a kind letter to the editor, a conversation with a friend, a comment on a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a disparaging comment."

President Henry B. Eyring, of the church's First Presidency, said church members can help avoid the conflicts that beset the world by unifying, even though the worldwide church incorporates different cultures, backgrounds and languages.

"There is always more that the children of God have in common than differences," President Eyring said. "And even the differences can be seen as an opportunity. God will help you see their differences not as a source of irritation but as a contribution. In a moment, the Lord can help you see and value what the other person contributes which you lack."

Challenges faced the pioneers in the 1800s, and challenges face the church today, though they are different.

"Instead of angry mobs, we face those who constantly try to defame. Instead of extreme exposure and hardship, we face alcohol and drug abuse, pornography, all kinds of filth and sleaze, greed, dishonesty and spiritual apathy," Elder Ballard said. "The Lord isn't asking us to load up a handcart; he's asking us to fortify our faith. He isn't asking us to walk across a continent; he's asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbors."

Through all the hardships, which are part of life's journey, said Bishop Keith B. McMullin, a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Heavenly Father's children need his help.

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