Book of Mormon prophets foresaw not only the eventual destruction of their own people but our times as well. Moroni said: “I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormon 8:35). Moroni and others knew of the pride that would exist in our modern world – pride that would lead to a multitude of sins (see Mormon 8:36, 37).
The prophets, ancient and modern, remind us that the solutions for disasters, personal distress, injustices, and the evils of the world lie in the gospel of Jesus Christ and its saving ordinances. They invite us to choose this day whom we will serve (see Joshua 24:15), and they exhort us to come unto Christ and lay hold upon every good gift (see Moroni 10:30).
Our most precious gift from God – the one that sets us apart as His sons and daughters – is our agency. We can act for ourselves. However, “man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (2 Nephi 2:16). Because there must be opposition in all things, the world is full of enticements. Advertisements, media, and the internet offer quick fixes for everything. Much too often, these promises are not fulfilled. They serve the provider much more than the receiver, and people “are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men” (D&C 123:12).
Invitations that deceive others are born of evil. These are the temptations we face every day. The motivation to tempt others is always selfishness. In subtle ways evil invitations manipulate and coerce people, resulting in spiritual captivity or even addiction.
Real purpose and happiness are found in the invitation extended to us by the Savior: “He inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Nephi 26:33). Inspired invitations entreat people to do that which is good. Those extending them respect the agency of others and are motivated by love.
Nephi explained the role we play in extending the Savior’s invitation: “Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance” (2 Nephi 26:27). To counteract the wickedness, temptation, and deception so prevalent in our world, all people need to receive inspired invitations born out of sincere love and concern for them. As we extend these invitations, many people will desire to accept them.
Last year we invited all members in the Europe Area to extend inspired invitations to family members and friends inside and outside the Church. We commend all who faithfully did so. Hundreds of lives have been blessed, both those who extended the invitations and those who responded to them.
A couple once told me how the grandfather of the family was baptised after many years of refusal. A granddaughter of Primary age was celebrating her birthday, and her grandfather asked her: “What is your wish for your birthday?” She thought for a moment and said: “I wish that you would be baptised, Grandpa!” He was startled by the invitation and then said, to the surprise of everyone, “Okay.” He was baptised, and shortly thereafter the complete family was sealed in the temple.
Sometimes we refuse to invite because we fear a negative reaction or we have tried a thousand times before and we do not believe that people will change. We should not worry about the reactions of others – we are not responsible for how they will respond. And we should not presume that people won’t change. President Monson has said: “Men change every day.”1
I see increased growth of the Church in Europe contingent upon our ability to extend inspired invitations. We therefore again invite you to be part of a special experiment in June. Prayerfully study the principle of inspired invitations. Ponder it individually, with your families, and in Church classes. As you study and pray, the Spirit will guide you and names will come to you. You will know how and to whom to extend an inspired invitation. People will respond to your loving plea to hear the missionaries or come with you to sacrament meeting.
Our faith in Jesus Christ will increase as we give strong invitations to those we love. When we invite others to come unto Christ, the elect will hear and recognise the voice of the Shepherd: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27, 28). My prayer is that we will extend invitations that will lead others to eternal life, which is the greatest gift of all.
1 Thomas S. Monson, “To the Rescue,” Ensign, May 2001