Before we belong to any other group — be it political, national, religious or otherwise — we belong to the family of God, with our “spiritual roots in eternity.”
This was the core message Tuesday morning from President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during a 25-minute speech at the Marriott Center to students at Brigham Young University.
“The group that is most important to identify with is being the children of God,” the 91-year-old Church leader said. “We declare that we are all the spiritual children of Heavenly Parents; thus, we are brothers and sisters in God’s family. We will continue to be a part of God’s family after we die and throughout all eternity. Nothing can change that relationship. We must always keep this uppermost in our minds.”
President Ballard said this message was in his mind from the moment he received the speaking assignment. “In the past few weeks, as I have read news stories and social media posts about what has happened on campus, I knew then why the Lord wanted me to speak on this important subject,” he said. “Let me assure you that the Lord is aware of you. He loves you and is concerned about you individually and collectively. He is anxious to heal any wounded souls on this campus and to bring together each and every one of you in love and peace. We can help in the process as we love, seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness and seek to build bridges of understanding.”
Stressing Jesus Christ’s teaching that His followers “love one another,” President Ballard said this way of living does not mean students and faculty should avoid candid discussion and working through their challenges.
“What [Jesus’s teaching] provides is the antidote to anger, ill feelings, distrust, hate and demonizing one another,” he said. “Of all the universities in the world, BYU should be where Jesus’s teachings and commandments are proclaimed, discussed and lived.”
President Ballard praised the students for their generation’s commitment to build a more sustainable future on earth and emphasize relational authenticity and transparency.
“Whether it is environmental, economic, or social sustainability, I hope you will continue to find creative solutions to help protect the future for all of God’s children in our world,” he said. “We should do whatever we can to protect and preserve the earth and to make life better for those who live here. We have a divine stewardship.”
Concerning authenticity and transparency, he said much progress must still be made, but “the openness I hear in discussions about mental and emotional health has made it easier for many to get the professional help and support they need without feeling any embarrassment or guilt,” he said. “Thank you for this important, Christlike service.”
President Ballard’s concluding thought was that the students not weary themselves with worry about things that matter little. They need their energy for what matters most.
Of all the universities in the world, BYU should be where Jesus’s teachings and commandments are proclaimed, discussed and lived.
“Please remember that first, your Heavenly Father loves you; and second, your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, loves you. Get these truths right in your mind and then sink them deep into your heart,” he said. “They will provide you a compass for how you should act and how you should treat others, and they will give you the strength to overcome temptation and stay on the Church covenant path.”