When I was a teenager, my family rented a small home in Laie on Loala Street for six weeks during the summer. We spent most of our days on Hukilau Beach, trying to avoid the “blue bubble” jellyfish, riding bicycles around the neighborhood, and drinking gallons of guava nectar. We visited the pineapple fields, hiked to waterfalls, and toured historic sites. This was a summer to remember for a 13-year-old boy! However, while these experiences were fun, I was impacted most by something more meaningful—the loving and welcoming nature of our neighbors.
Even though we were staying in Laie for only a short time, those around us reached out. Families invited us into their homes for dinner. Kids in the neighborhood extended a hand of friendship. We were even asked to participate in the local ward’s annual beach barbecue and talent show. We were accepted, included, and valued.
We felt like we belonged.
Today, I would like to discuss the importance of remembering our divine identity in our efforts to belong and how our chosen place of belonging leads to who we eventually become.
Identity, Belonging, and Becoming
The American Psychological Association defines belonging as “the feeling of being accepted and approved by a group.”1 Belonging is a basic human need. As noted by the renowned psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, “Human beings are … motivated by a need to belong. … People seek … positive interactions within … long-term, caring relationships.”2
Unfortunately, not all of us feel a sense of belonging and at times attempt to adjust who we are to be accepted. “We all want to fit in,” explains Joanna Cannon, a British psychiatrist. “In order to achieve that, we often present slightly different versions of who we are, depending on the environment and whose company we are in. We might have numerous ‘editions’ of ourselves—for work, or at home, or even online.”3
It is important to note that there is a difference between fitting in and belonging. Brené Brown, an American researcher and author, taught: “Fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”4
Knowing our divine identity is essential to meaningful belonging; otherwise, we will spend our time and efforts adjusting ourselves to find acceptance in places that do not honor or align with our eternal nature. Moreover, where we choose to belong can lead to changes in our values and behaviors as we conform to group norms and standards. Over time, where we belong affects who we become.
In short, embracing our divine identity influences where we desire to belong, and our chosen place of belonging leads to who we eventually become.
Divine Identity — Belonging — Becoming
We are children of God and, if we choose, disciples of Jesus Christ. Prioritizing these identities will lead us to the most joyful and enduring type of identity and belonging possible and will also help us to reach our divine potential.
Fortunately, we do not have to wait for the next life to enjoy these blessings. The process of prioritizing our divine identity, belonging to God and Jesus Christ, and becoming like Them allows us to experience joy in our daily lives, regardless of our current social circumstances.5 Moreover, we can share this joy with others. We can see all people as children of God and strive to create space for them to belong and to become as well. We experience the joy of divine identity, belonging, and becoming together.
I suppose of all doctrine, the most ennobling is the knowledge that we are children of loving heavenly parents and have the potential to become like.6 7
We all lived with God in the premortal life.8 He knows us and loves us perfectly.9 We were created in His image—male and female.10 He prepared a plan for us to become like Him.11 His plan of happiness involved us coming to earth to obtain a physical body, gain knowledge, and ultimately return to our heavenly home to live with Him in eternal joy.12 God revealed, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."13 Incredibly, we are His work and glory! This says something about our immense value and worth to Him.
Given the billions of people on the earth, some may find it difficult to accept that God is mindful of us individually. I witness that He knows each of us and is also aware of what we are doing, where we are, and even “the thoughts and intents of [our] heart[s].”14 We are not only “numbered unto”15 God but also loved perfectly by Him.16
A few years ago, while serving in Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit a small branch of the Church in a rural part of the country. The members met in a small, rented warehouse for sacrament meetings. They sat in plastic chairs on a cement floor, as did the branch president and his counselors. The day I visited, there were a handful of people in attendance. As I sat in my own plastic chair and looked upon the group of individuals, I wondered what message Heavenly Father wanted me to share with this small band of Saints in a distant part of the vineyard. While I prayed, the Spirit communicated to me the following words: “Tell them I know them and I love them. Tell them I weep when they cry, and I rejoice when they are happy. Tell them I hear their prayers and am answering in a way best for them.” As I shared this message with these individuals, I felt Heavenly Father’s profound interest in and love for each of them and His yearning for their joy and happiness.
Today, I feel to bear the same witness to each of you. God knows you and loves you. He weeps when you cry, and He rejoices when you are happy. He hears your prayers and answers them in the way He knows best.
God will always love us, regardless of what we have done or have gone through.17 Because of His perfect love for us, Heavenly Father desires to share all that He has with us.18 After all, we are His children. He wants us to become like Him, to do the things He does, and to experience the joy He has. When we open our hearts and minds to this truth, “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God.19
Identity and Mortality
While we walked with God, heard His voice, and felt His love in the premortal life, we have since passed through a veil into mortality. We no longer have a perfect recollection of our life before.20 The conditions of this mortal environment make it harder to sense our divine nature and the belonging we enjoyed in our heavenly home.21 Let me share just three ways mortality can divert us from our divine identity.
First, too much focus on our genetic and environmental differences can be an obstacle to our connection with God. We were each born into mortality with different genetic makeup. Our genes help determine how we look, the way our body functions, and even our personality. Overlaying our genetics are myriad environmental factors that include, among others, family dynamics, cultural upbringing, and access to education, healthcare, and basic services. These environmental influences add even more complexity and diversity to each of our life experiences.
The adversary attempts to exploit these genetic and environmental differences to divert us from our common divine parentage. We receive labels from others and sometimes even assume them ourselves. We are segmented and categorized by age, race, gender and orientation, nationality, educational attainment, economic status, social standing, political affiliation, and on and on.22 There is nothing inherently wrong identifying with others based on earthly characteristics; in fact, many of us find joy and support from those with similar traits and experiences. We all need places where we are not judged but loved and supported. However, when we forget our core identity as God’s children, we can begin to fear, distrust, or feel superior to those different than us.23 These attitudes often lead to division, discrimination, and even destruction.24
When we remember our divine heritage, our diversity provides beauty and richness to life. We see ourselves as brothers and sisters, despite our differences. We come to respect and learn from one another. We strive to provide supportive places for others to belong, especially when their characteristics and experiences differ from ours. We feel gratitude to God, our Father, for the variety of His creations.25
While our genetics and environment influence our experience in mortality, they do not define us. We are children of God with the potential to become like Him.
Second, our mortal trials can be another obstacle to sensing our divine identity. Some of our challenges simply occur because we live in an imperfect, mortal world.26 They are no one’s fault. Natural disasters, physical limitations, and mental illnesses are just a few examples of these types of challenges.27
When we remember our divine identity, we gain a broader, more eternal perspective. We come to understand that these difficulties are temporary28 and can help us to develop and grow.29 These challenges can also put us in a better position to bless and serve others experiencing similar trials.30
Other mortal trials result from the actions of others. Frequently, these types are the most painful. Victims of abuse, discrimination, false accusation, infidelity, rape, and war suffer at the hands of their oppressors. When these painful experiences are imposed upon us, we feel used, manipulated, demeaned, and devalued. These feelings can lead to anger, hate, bitterness, and even self-loathing.
When we embrace our divine identity, we will not forget that God loves and values us infinitely. We understand that despite very painful mortal challenges, God’s very work and glory is to help us develop and grow, become like Him, and gain eternal joy. We remember that one of God’s gifts to all of us is moral agency—the ability to choose and to act for ourselves.31 While God commanded us and yearns for us to use this moral agency to do good,32 some use it for personal advantage at great cost to others.33 God will hold perpetrators accountable and in time make all things whole and fair to those they have wronged or harmed.34 He can and will turn the “ashes” of our lives to “beauty.”35 I promise that as we seek Him, He will send compensating blessings to those of us enduring these types of trials.36
While our trials influence our mortal experience, they do not define us. We are children of God with the potential to become like Him.
Third, sin is another challenge of mortality that separates us from our connection to God. We have all sinned,37 and such was contemplated in God’s plan for us.38 Personal sin, when left untreated, impedes our ability to feel the Holy Ghost and distances us from our Heavenly Father. At these times, we may be tempted to accuse Him of not loving us or even leaving us.39
When we sin, the adversary whispers to us that we are the sum of our mistakes. He emphasizes our mortal nature over our divine potential.40 Others may attempt to label us based on our errors. At times, even we are determined to define ourselves from past shameful behaviors.
However, when we remember our divine heritage, we trust in God’s plan to help us overcome our own sins and return to live in His presence. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, our guilt, shame, and pain from sin can be transformed to humility, hope, and joy.41
While our sins and mistakes influence our mortal experience, they do not define us. We are children of God with the potential to become like Him.
Even though we experience mortal challenges, we should not view them as an indicator of God’s indifference or disregard for us. Many years ago, I received a call from a bishop requesting my assistance to find a woman in his ward. This sister had a severe mental illness and at times would run away and hide from imagined threats, though they were very real to her. Her life had not been easy. She had been abused, exploited, and disowned by others for much of her life. She had made her own bad choices as well. The bishop and I located this sister in a motel on the other side of town. When the bishop knocked on the door and called her name, she immediately recognized his voice. She opened the door and allowed us to help her into the bishop’s vehicle so we could take her to the hospital. As I took her by the arm, God opened a vision to me of this woman’s divine nature. He loved her deeply and considered her to be one of His choicest daughters. He let me know she was willing to come to earth despite her many challenges. He believed in her. He let me know it was a sacred privilege for me to be in her presence.
Belonging through Jesus Christ
Knowing that we would face significant challenges in mortality, God prepared and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to help us overcome these obstacles.42 Christ offers to help us reestablish the intimate relationship we had with God in the premortal life. As Christ explained, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”43
Satan tries to persuade us that we are somehow not worthy of Christ’s help or attention. He wants us to think that we are too different, that we are damaged goods, that we have sinned too many times, or that our experiences differ enough from other Church members that there is no place for us. Satan attempts to convince us that Christ has lost interest in us and that we no longer belong. Nothing could be farther from the truth!44
Christ is always willing to help us. We belong to Him,45 and He yearns for us to come to Him. In His own words, the Savior promises, “Come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.”46
So, how do we come to Christ with full purpose of heart?
First, we accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer. We recognize God’s greatness, our lost and fallen state, and our absolute dependence on Jesus Christ to be saved.47 We desire to be known by His name48 and want to be His disciples “all the remainder of our days.”49
Second, we come to Christ with full purpose of heart by making and keeping sacred covenants with God.50 51 Covenants with God are made through the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ performed by priesthood authority.
- At baptism, we promise to take Christ’s name upon us, remember Him always, and keep His commandments.52 At confirmation, God gives us the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which helps us maintain a remission of our sins, keep the promises we made at baptism, and become more like Him.
- Through priesthood covenants, we promise to follow Christ by being worthy to receive God’s power and using it to bless and help others.
- In the temple endowment, we promise to follow Christ by obeying God, sacrificing for the Lord’s work, living the higher law of the gospel, adhering to His standards of chastity, and consecrating our time, talents, and resources to build His kingdom on the earth.
- In the marriage sealing, we promise to be righteous spouses and parents, and help each other gain eternal life.
I recognize that some of us, due to mortal circumstances, will not have the opportunity to receive every ordinance and make every covenant in this mortal life.53 In such cases, God asks that we do “all we can”54 to make and keep the covenants available to us. He then promises to give us the opportunity to receive any remaining ordinances and covenants in the next life.55 He will make it possible for us to receive every blessing He has for His children.56
Making and keeping covenants not only binds us to God and His Son but also connects us with one another. Some years ago, I was visiting Costa Rica with family and needed to find a local Church unit for us to attend sacrament meeting. After finding the building, we entered and were welcomed warmly by several of the members. During the meeting, we sang the sacrament hymn with the small congregation. We watched the priests prepare the sacrament and then listened as they recited the sacramental prayers. As the bread and water were passed to us, I was overwhelmed with God’s love for each one of these fellow covenant-keepers. I had not met any of them before that meeting but felt unity and kinship with them, since we had all made and were striving to keep the same promises to God.
When we make and strive to keep sacred covenants with God, we begin to experience a sense of belonging greater than can be achieved through affiliation with any earthly or temporal group.57 58 We “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”59 60
Becoming like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
God rejoices when we feel the love, unity, and strength that come from a deep sense of belonging with Him, His Son, and those that follow Them. However, He has much bigger plans for us! While He invites us to come as we are, His real desire is for us to become as He is.
In the production The Lion King, the young lion Simba experiences a painful tragedy—his father’s death—and runs away from his family, pride, and responsibility as a new king. He finds belonging in a group of two good friends and tries to forget his true identity and position. However, his responsibility to govern continues to tug at him, and at an important moment, his father, Mufasa, the former king, comes to Simba in a vision with the following message:
Mufasa: “Simba, you have forgotten me.”
Simba: “No. How could I?”
Mufasa: “You have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life.”
Simba: “How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.”
Mufasa: “Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are.”61
After Simba experiences this message from his father, he determines to return and assume his role as king and protector of his pride of lions.
I wonder if sometimes Heavenly Father is trying to reach out to us with a similar message: “My daughter or my son, you are much more than you have come to be. Trust in me, follow my Son, and you will reach the full stature of who you were meant to become.”
Interestingly, making and keeping covenants not only helps us to belong to God and Christ but also enables us with the power to become like Them.62 As we keep the covenants associated with the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel, God’s power can flow into our lives.63 We can view the covenant path as a divine apprenticeship program of sorts. As we make and keep covenants with God, we practice thinking, behaving, and loving as He does. Little by little, with His help and power, we are enabled to become like Him.
God yearns for us to join Him and His Son in bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” He has given each of us time on this earth, spiritual gifts, and the agency to use them in the service of others. We are His sons and daughters, and He has an important work for us to do.64 65
To be effective in His work, we need to turn outward and learn to put God first and often place the needs of others ahead of our own.66 Focusing outward requires personal sacrifice67 but also infuses more meaning in our lives and provides great joy.68 69
Daily repentance is another practice that enables us to contribute to God’s work. Repentance is not a punishment but a hopeful process for becoming like Christ. The moment we begin to repent, “immediately"70 Christ begins to offer us the cleansing power of His atoning sacrifice and strengthens us so that we can be more capable of doing His work.71
We cannot allow the distractions of the world to deter us from His work. While recreation, social media, and relaxation have their purpose, too much focus on these types of activities consumes time that we could use to do more meaningful things. It would be useful for us to take a periodic inventory of how we spend our time and then adjust so that we can be more accessible to God to do His work.72
Sometimes we may want to take the easy road or the path of least resistance, but God has greater things for us to accomplish. While His work may require us to overcome some fear and discomfort, He will endow us with the strength73 and give us the support74 to accomplish what He expects of us.
As we engage in God’s work, we no longer just belong as members of a group, but we become real partners with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no greater feeling than knowing God trusts us sufficiently to work through us to bring eternal life to others.
In conclusion, I would like to extend three invitations that will help us gain a joyful and enduring sense of identity and belonging and enable us to reach our divine potential.
First, I invite us to prioritize our divine identity as children of God. This means we base our self-worth on our divine parentage. We seek to build our relationship with God through prayer and scripture study, Sabbath-day observance and temple worship, and any other activity that brings the Holy Spirit into our lives and strengthens our connection to Him. We let God prevail in our lives.75
Second, I invite us to accept Christ as our Savior and to place our discipleship to Him above other considerations.76 This means that we take His name upon us and that we desire to be known as His followers. We seek to access His forgiveness and His strength daily. We make and keep our covenants. We strive to become like Him.77
Third, I invite us to engage in God’s work by helping others come to Christ and gain eternal life. This means we help others see their divine identity and feel a sense of belonging. We openly share the joy we find in Jesus Christ and His gospel.78 We strive to help others make and keep sacred covenants with God. We seek God’s guidance to know who we can bless and how to do so.79
I promise that as we prioritize our relationship with God and our discipleship to Jesus Christ, we will gain a joyful and enduring sense of identity and belonging and ultimately reach our divine potential.
Shortly before His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and subsequent Crucifixion on the cross, Christ prayed to the Father for His Apostles and for those of us that believe in their words: “[I pray] that they may be one, even as we are one, … that they may be made perfect in one.”80 I find it meaningful that shortly after Christ pled with God that we could become one with Them, He then went to perform the Atonement, which made His plea for us possible.
God is our loving Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. As we prioritize our divine identity and choose to belong to Them, and as we support others in doing the same, we will ultimately become one with Them.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
- APA Dictionary of Psychology, s.v. “belonging,” accessed May 17, 2022, https://dictionary.apa.org/belonging.
- Roy F. Baumeister and Mark R. Leary, “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation,” Psychological Bulletin, vol. 117, no. 3 (1995), 497–522.
- Joanna Cannon, “We All Want to Fit In,” Psychology Today (blog), Jul. 13, 2016, psychologytoday.com.
- Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Sheridan, WY: Gotham Books, 2012), 231–32.
- President Russell M. Nelson taught: “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (“Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 82).
- See Psalm 82:6; Acts 17:26–29; Romans 8:16; Hebrews 12:9.
- President Dallin H. Oaks, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them” (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 87).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then a member of the First Presidency, testified: “We are eternal beings, without beginning and without end. We have always existed. We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent Heavenly Parents!” (“O How Great the Plan of Our God!,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 21).
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
- See Doctrine and Covenants 93:29; 138:55–56.
- See 1 Nephi 11:17; Jeremiah 1:4–5.
- See Genesis 1:27.
- See Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20, 23–24.
- See 2 Nephi 2; 9; Abraham 3:26.
- Moses 1:39.
- Alma 18:32.
- Moses 1:35.
- See 1 Nephi 11:17.
- Paul taught about the power of God’s love for each one of us: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38–39).
- See Doctrine and Covenants 84:38.
- Romans 8:16–17.
- President Ezra Taft Benson explained, “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations” [Brigham Young University devotional, Dec. 10, 1974], speeches.byu.edu).
- Just as President Nelson noted regarding the use of other names for the Church of Jesus Christ, focusing on mortal identities instead of divine identities is a “major victory” for Satan. When encouraging members to use the correct name of the Church, President Nelson explained: “To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement. … When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives” (“The Correct Name of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 88).
- Unfortunately, sometimes labels creep into the Church. Think of some of the terms we use to describe people—single, married, and divorced; active and less active; part-member family; nonmember, new member, and lifelong member; and so on. These terms can be used to help us communicate and to minister to one another, but sometimes I wonder if they are more often hurtful than helpful.
- In an interview, the psychologist Roy Baumeister explained how belonging to one group can create division with another: “Rejecting others may strengthen one’s ties to one’s ingroup. Belonging to all humankind is not the point. … There’s ‘no us without them’ in the common phrase. … It’s normal and natural to have enemies and outgroups. Meanwhile, recent research linking online mobs that target people to ‘cancel’ them by ruining their reputations are likewise driven by striving to impress one’s ingroup” (Roy F. Baumeister, in Kelly-Ann Allen and others, “The Need to Belong: A Deep Dive into the Origins, Implications, and Future of a Foundational Construct,” Educational Psychology Review, Aug. 31, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-021-09633-6).
- When talking with the prophet Enoch, God spoke of a people that forgot their divine nature. He explained, “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; and … have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood, … and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren” (Moses 7:32–33, 36).
- The Book of Mormon speaks of a time when the people, though diverse, were unified in God. “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:15–17). This group of people remembered their divine heritage, placed their allegiance to Him above all else, and lived in unity and love with others, despite genetic and environmental differences.
- As the scriptures describe, “For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45; see also John 9:1–3).
- King Benjamin, a beloved prophet in the Book of Mormon, acknowledged some of his challenges in mortality: “I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11).
- See Doctrine and Covenants 121:7.
- See Doctrine and Covenants 122:7.
- Alma 26:30.
- See 2 Nephi 2:27; Helaman 14:30; Doctrine and Covenants 101:78; Moses 7:32.
- See Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–28.
- See Alma 14:9–11.
- Some hopeful messages include the following:
“All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 51).
“All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service , 52).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
- Isaiah 61:3.
- Elder Neil L. Andersen taught, “As the Lord’s servant, I promise you that as you are faithful to Jesus Christ and your covenants, you will receive compensating blessings in this life and your righteous desires in the eternal timeline of the Lord” (“The Personal Journey of a Child of God,” Liahona, May 2021, 47).
At another time, he shared, “As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory power, an additional spiritual endowment, a revelatory gift for the righteous” (“A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 18, 2015], 3, speeches.byu.edu).
- See Romans 3:23.
- See Moses 6:55–57.
- Elder Dale G. Renlund cautioned: “God loves you because you are His spirit daughter [or spirit son]. Sometimes we may not feel His love, but it is always there. God’s love is perfect. Our ability to sense that love is not. ... Behaviors that distance us from the Holy Ghost, including sin, make it difficult for us to perceive God’s love for us” (“Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny,” Liahona, May 2022, 70).
- See Moses 1:9–22.
- See Alma 36:17–20; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10.
- Those of us facing prejudice and intolerance due to our genetics or social circumstances can find belonging in Christ: “He inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33).
Those of us suffering from the painful trials of mortality can find strength and solace in Christ’s promise: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30; see also Doctrine and Covenants 54:10).
Those of us in sin can find hope in this invitation from Jesus: “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:13–14).
- John 14:6; see also John 3:16–17.
- Consider these words from our Savior: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed” (Isaiah 54:10; see also 3 Nephi 22:10). President Nelson explained that the word kindness in this scripture “is translated from the Hebrew term hesed, a powerful word with deep meaning that encompasses kindness, mercy, covenant love, and more” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” Liahona, May 2022, 100).
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Isaiah 49:15; see also 1 Nephi 21:15).
"I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick” (Ezekiel 34:16).
- Paul taught one way that we belong to Christ: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 7:23).
- 3 Nephi 12:24; several additional scripture passages highlighting Christ’s willingness to receive us include 2 Nephi 28:32; 2 Nephi 31:13; Jacob 6:5; Mosiah 7:33; Alma 5:33–34; 3 Nephi 9:14; 3 Nephi 10:6; and 3 Nephi 18:32.
- John Newton (1725–1807), an Anglican clergyman, described his need for Jesus in the following way: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
- See Mosiah 5:7–8.
- See Mosiah 5:5.
- See Isaiah 55:3.
- Elder David A. Bednar shared: “Entering into sacred covenants and worthily receiving priesthood ordinances yoke us with and bind us to the Lord Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. This simply means that we trust in the Savior as our Advocate and Mediator and rely on His merits, mercy, and grace during the journey of life. As we are steadfast in coming unto Christ and are yoked with Him, we receive the cleansing, healing, and strengthening blessings of His infinite and eternal Atonement. Living and loving covenant commitments creates a connection with the Lord that is deeply personal and spiritually powerful. As we honor the conditions of sacred covenants and ordinances, we gradually and incrementally are drawn closer to Him and experience the impact of His divinity and living reality in our lives. Jesus then becomes much more than the central character in scripture stories; His example and teachings influence our every desire, thought, and action” (“But We Heeded Them Not,” Liahona, May 2022, 15).
- Paul, in describing the relationship between the covenant of baptism and our identity, wrote: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26–28).
- Of the 117 billion people that have lived on this earth (see Toshiko Kaneda and Carl Haub, “How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?,” Population Reference Bureau, May 18, 2021, https://www.prb.org/articles/how-many-people-have-ever-lived-on-earth/), relatively few have had access to all the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel. As a result, the vast majority of God’s children will need to receive these ordinances in the spirit world.
- See 2 Nephi 25:23.
- See Doctrine and Covenants 138:54, 58.
- Mosiah 2:41.
- Elder Gerrit W. Gong taught: “To belong with God and to walk with each other on His covenant path is to be blessed by covenant belonging” (“Covenant Belonging,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 80).
- The Lord’s holy house also creates an environment of equality and covenant belonging. Consider the following about our experience in the temple: All are invited to prepare and qualify for a temple recommend. We all wear white clothing signifying collective purity and equality before God. We call each other brother or sister and do not use formal earthly titles. All are provided the same learning opportunities. All are offered the same covenants and ordinances and can receive the same eternal blessings.
- Ephesians 2:19.
- Elder Robert D. Hales taught: “We all belong to a community of Saints, we all need each other, and we are all working toward the same goal. Any one of us could isolate ourselves from [our] ward [or branch] family on the basis of our differences. But we must not shut ourselves out or isolate ourselves from opportunities because of the differences we perceive in ourselves. Instead, let us share our gifts and talents with others, bringing brightness of hope and joy to them, and in so doing lift our own spirits” (“Belonging to a Ward Family,” Ensign, Mar. 1996, 16).
- Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, dir., The Lion King (Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Pictures, 1994).
- See Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–22.
- Elder David A. Bednar explained: “The ordinances of salvation and exaltation administered in the Lord’s restored Church are far more than rituals or symbolic performances. Rather, they constitute authorized channels through which the blessings and powers of heaven can flow into our individual lives” (“Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 60).
- See Moses 1:4, 6.
- President Russell M. Nelson taught: “The Lord has more in mind for you than you have in mind for yourself. As you love Him and keep His commandments, great rewards—even unimaginable achievements—may be yours” (Accomplishing the Impossible: What God Does, What We Can Do , 147).
- As always, Christ provides us the perfect example of turning outward. From the beginning, He always acted out of love for the Father and love for us: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends” (John 15:13–14).
- See Doctrine and Covenants 138:12–13.
- See Alma 36:24–26.
- Sister Reyna I. Aburto instructed: “My dear friends, let us have the faith of a child and rejoice in knowing that even our smallest efforts are making a significant difference in God’s kingdom. Our purpose in His kingdom should be to bring each other to Christ. … When we come to Him and bring those we love to Him, He sees our faith. He will make them whole, and He will make us whole” (“We Are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Liahona, May 2022, 12–13).
- Alma 34:31.
- President Nelson invited us to repent daily: “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether you are diligently moving along the covenant path, have slipped or stepped from the covenant path, or can’t even see the path from where you are now, I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day. When we choose to repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior to transform us into the best version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually and receive joy—the joy of redemption in Him. When we choose to repent, we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!” (Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 67).
- President Nelson encouraged us to take time for the Lord each day: “I plead with you today to counter the lure of the world by making time for the Lord in your life—each and every day. If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are not also seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true. … My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord! Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always. … Make your Sabbath a delight as you worship Him, partake of the sacrament, and keep His day holy. … Please make time for the Lord in His holy house. Nothing will strengthen your spiritual foundation like temple service and temple worship” (Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord,” Liahona, Nov. 2021, 120–21).
- See Alma 26:12.
- See Doctrine and Covenants 84:88.
- President Nelson has inspired us to let God be the most important influence in our lives: “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His? … When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, … so many decisions become easier. So many issues become nonissues! You know how best to groom yourself. You know what to watch and read, where to spend your time, and with whom to associate. You know what you want to accomplish. You know the kind of person you really want to become. … It takes both faith and courage to let God prevail. It takes persistent, rigorous spiritual work to repent and to put off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It takes consistent, daily effort to develop personal habits to study the gospel, to learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and to seek and respond to personal revelation” (Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, 94–95).
- Elder Dale G. Renlund taught about the importance of prioritizing our discipleship to Christ: “If we are unable to place our discipleship to Jesus Christ above personal interests and viewpoints, we should reexamine our priorities and change” (“The Peace of Christ Abolishes Enmity,” Liahona, Nov. 2021, 84).
- Elder Robert D. Hales described what it means to become a disciple of Jesus Christ: “A disciple is one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon him or her the name of the Savior and follow Him. A disciple strives to become as He is” (“Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 46).
- Alma the Younger, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, exclaimed his joy in sharing the blessings of Christ and His Atonement with others: “But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors” (Alma 36:23–25).
- Elder Richard G. Scott promised: “God has a specific plan for your life. He will reveal parts of that plan to you as you look for it with faith and consistent obedience” (“How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 102).
- John 17:22–23.