Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elder Ulisses Soares on our covenants to nurture and help one another

Elder Ulisses Soares (born October 2, 1958 in Brazil) has served as a Seventy since April 2005, and as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since January 2013. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on April 1, 2018.
"In a similar way that the Solimões and Negro Rivers flow together to make the great Amazon River, the children of God come together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage, support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty force for good in the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, flowing as one in this river of goodness, we will be able to provide the 'fresh water' of the gospel to a thirsty world.
"The Lord has inspired His prophets to teach us how we can support and love each other so we can become united in faith and purpose in following Jesus Christ. Paul, the New Testament Apostle, taught that those who 'have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ...: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus' (Galatians 3:27–28; emphasis added).
"When we promise at baptism to follow the Savior, we witness before the Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ. (See Doctrine and Covenants 20:37.) As we strive to acquire His divine attributes in our lives, we become different than we were, through the Atonement of Christ the Lord, and our love for all people increases naturally. (See Mosiah 3:19.) We feel a sincere concern for everyone’s welfare and happiness. We see each other as brothers and sisters, as children of God with divine origin, attributes, and potential. We desire to care for each other and bear one another’s burdens. (See Mosiah 18:8.)
"This is what Paul described as charity. (See 1 Corinthians 13.) Mormon, a prophet of the Book of Mormon, described it as 'the pure love of Christ' (Moroni 7:47), which is the most sublime, noblest, and strongest form of love."
- Ulisses Soares, "One in Christ," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Soares, the newest of the apostles who is from Brazil, used the analogy of smaller rivers merging to form the Amazon to describe the process of how we merge together in our church communities of faith. Bringing diverse backgrounds and compositions together can take some time as we learn to accommodate and cooperate; but the result is an even stronger combined presence including the best of all the contributing components. But the process of joining in unity is not always easy, especially for the smaller, newer components—the new members joining the Church. So Elder Soares counseled on things we can do to be aware of them and their challenges.

Some of the most important aspects of nurturing newer members are the inherent covenants and obligations that come with the covenants we make at baptism:

I appreciated Elder Soares' reminder; it's always beneficial to ponder covenants we have made, and consider if there are things we can do better as we strive to live up to our spiritual commitments. And strive is the key word; we should "strive to acquire His divine attributes in our lives." We're not perfect yet, but we're striving!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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