Area Presidency Message

 'A Wise King Once Said '

Elder Terence M. Vinson

Just as the birth of the Saviour inspired the Wise Men to bring gifts for the newborn King, we often exchange gifts at Christmas in memory and honor of the Saviour's birth. But the gifts we have received as a consequence of this wonderful event far outweigh anything we might give to another. In fact, our gifts really should be to that King, the Saviour of the world, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, before any gifts we give to family and friends.

A wise king once said: 'I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another - I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.' (Mosiah 2:21)

So, how do we give a gift to Him who has given us everything? Well, let us see what He has asked us to give!  

'And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. ...... Behold, this is the way that mine apostles, in ancient days, built up my church unto me.' (D&C 84:106, 108)

As you can see, we have clearly been told, and we have been given the method - His method. In fact, we learned this almost a year ago, in the Africa West Area Broadcast.

But have we done anything about it? 

After all, 'One (The Saviour) takes one (us)'. That is His gift to us, just as He has requested it should be ours to Him, where 'one (us) takes one (some other person who needs our help) to lift them.'

All that the Saviour does for us is individual and personal. Our conversion is personal and customized. Each of us is a member of His Church because the Holy Spirit has witnessed to us individually of the truth of His gospel. The revelation and inspiration we receive as we study the scriptures is personal. I learn things for myself as I study the scriptures that are tailored to my past experiences, and are very personal. In all these things, He is lifting us individually.

He did the same (see John Ch.1) with Andrew and John the Beloved (v.39), then with Peter (v.42), then Philip (v.43), and then Nathanael (v.47-49). He did the same with Saul (who became Paul) and with Alma and Alma the Younger, with Lehi and Nephi, and with Enos and Enoch. In each case, the “lifting” was personal and individual, including with Zacheus and with Mary Magdalene, with Martha and with Thomas, and with Joseph Smith. All these, and yet every instance and every person was individual and unique to them. And we must do the same.

In Luke Ch. 10 as He finishes His parable of the Good Samaritan, a story of One taking One, He simply says: 'Go, and do thou likewise.' (Luke 10:37)

He ministered always in like manner. When He visited the Nephites, His interaction was: 'And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so, shall ye do unto the world.' (3 Nephi 18:25)

Just a few verses later, He gives instructions for us in relation to those who have sinned: 'for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them, and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.' (3 Nephi 18:32)

We must be motivated by love and do what He did in order to become like Him. 'But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him.' (Moroni 7:47-48)

A Church scholar and former General Authority suggests that the Saviour's crowning act in His mission was probably done in the same way. In 'The Infinite Atonement' by Tad R Callister, we read 'This was a personalized, not a mass atonement. Somehow, it may be that the sins of every soul were individually (as well as cumulatively) accounted for, suffered for, and redeemed for, all with a love unknown to man. Christ tasted 'death for every man' Hebrews 2:9), perhaps meaning for each individual person. ..... Just as the Saviour blessed the 'little children, one by one' (3 Nephi 17:21); just as the Nephites felt his wounds 'one by one' (3 Nephi 11:15); just as he listens to our prayers one by one; so, perhaps, he suffered for us, one by one.'

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, together with others, was even more definite in stating that the Atonement was the ultimate act of One taking One. 'If we truly understood the Atonement and the eternal value of each soul, we would seek out the wayward boy and girl and every other wayward child of God. We would help them to know the love Christ has for them. We would do all that we can to help prepare them to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel.

Surely, if the Atonement of Christ is foremost in the minds of ward and branch leaders, no new or reactivated member will ever be neglected. Because every soul is so precious, leaders will counsel together to see that each one is taught the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. ......  The irony of the Atonement is that it is infinite and eternal, yet it is applied individually, one person at a time. ..... Brothers and sisters, never, never underestimate how precious is the one.' (Elder M. Russell Ballard 'The Atonement and the Value of One Soul' Gen Conf April 2004)

This is happening in many wards and branches of West Africa. But if we truly value the Saviour’s gifts to us, it will be happening in EVERY ward and branch and family in West Africa. Let us follow the counsel of the Saviour Himself and do His work in His way. We invite every member of the Church this December to begin and then to continue to give our gifts to Him – gifts of “one who is strong taking one who is weak” and helping and lifting, so that we may all be edified together. I invite you to discuss this and act on it until it becomes second nature to you.