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Christ is perfect example, source of stability, leaders say in second conference session

SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saint leaders encouraged church members and those estranged from the faith to be steadfast or to return and enjoy gospel joy and blessings during the Saturday afternoon session of the faith's global general conference.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles built his talk around James' Biblical teaching that "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways."

"Our Savior, on the other hand, was the perfect example of stability," he said.

He acknowledged that life can become a "furnace of affliction," but encouraged church members to become converted and rely on God.

"To persevere firm and steadfast in the faith of Christ requires that the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrate one's heart and soul, meaning that the gospel becomes not just one of many influences in a person's life, but the defining focus of his or her life and character."

When affliction comes, Elder Christofferson said, divine help can make all the difference.

"Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness," he said. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. Remaining firm in the faith of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support. He will convert trial into blessing... ."

When trials come, said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve, "It is the love of God that rescues, restores and revives."

That's because, he said Christ's love "isn't a 'gift-card, throw-away, move-on-to-other-things' love" but the one that Heavenly Father has for his children.

"It is this endless compassion that allows us to more clearly see others for who they are," he said. "Through the lens of pure love, we see immortal beings of infinite potential and worth and beloved sons and daughters of Almighty God. Once we see through that lens, we cannot discount, disregard, or discriminate against anyone."

He said church members are painfully imperfect but are "trying to get it right." He asked for help from those outside the church or estranged from it.

"If you are not a member of the church, I invite you to come and join with us. If you are a member of the church but presently not participating actively, please come back. We need you! Come, add your strengths to ours. Because of your unique talents, abilities, and personality, you will help us become better and happier. In return, we will help you become better and happier as well. Come, help us build and strengthen a culture of healing, kindness, and mercy towards all of God’s children."

Elder Uchtdorf said the gospel culture leaders want to cultivate in the church is one where members forgive one another, resist fault-finding and gossip and lift and help each other.

He and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve said life can be hard at times for everyone, leading to times of despair and discouragement.

"In various times and ways, we all feel inadequate, uncertain, perhaps unworthy," Elder Gong said. "Yet, in our faithful efforts to love God and to minister to our neighbor, we may feel God’s love and needed inspiration for their and our lives in new and holier ways."

At times, that may require extra effort, he added: "When we have felt, or feel, uncertain, alone, frustrated, angry, let down, disappointed or estranged from God and his restored church, it may take an extra measure of effort and faith to enter again on his covenant path. But it is worth it! Please come, or come again, unto the Lord."

Elder Gong encouraged members to "remember perfection is in Christ, not in ourselves or in the perfectionism of the world."

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve said the church "cannot afford to lose even one" new member and asked member to help.

"My beloved companions in the work of the Lord, I believe we can do much better and should do better in welcoming new friends into the church," he said, mentioning his own status as a convert to the church with his wife. "I invite you to consider what we can do to be more embracing, accepting, and helpful to them, starting this very next Sunday."

He provided three suggestions, saying new people need true, loyal friends in the church, an assignment to serve and to be taught how to learn and apply scripture.

Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, counseled members to sustain President Russell M. Nelson as the church's living prophet and seek personal revelation.

"The Lord has revealed and continues to reveal to the president of the church the patterns by which the kingdom of God is to be directed in our day. And, at a personal level, he provides guidance as to how each of us should direct our lives, such that our conduct may likewise be acceptable to the Lord."