2014 Mutual Theme Invites Youth to “Come unto Christ”
By Jason Swensen and Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writers
The 2014 Mutual theme is an invitation to the youth of the Church to “come unto Christ,” youth leaders say. It is an opportunity to invite Latter-day Saint youth to “partake of the enabling power of the Atonement,” said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president. Church leaders announced the theme—“Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32)—this fall.
“As you draw near to the Lord, you will have a desire to serve others,” said Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president. Leaders are encouraged to use the theme to enrich Mutual opening exercises, as a topic for sacrament meeting talks by youth, or to provide focus for youth activities such as camp, youth conference, and devotionals. Resources for introducing the theme, including videos and music, will be available to leaders on LDS.org by the end of 2013.
Sister Carol F. McConkie, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said the theme will help Latter-day Saint youth make and keep covenants and expand their understanding of the Savior. Through that knowledge and experience they will “get a glimpse of the Savior and who He really is.”
“It is a process,” she said. “We don’t want our leaders and our youth to get caught up in the idea that we have to be perfect right now. This is not perfection by the world’s standards. … This is the perfection that can only come through the Atonement of Christ, His merits, His mercy, and His grace.”
When Brother Larry Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, ponders the 2014 Mutual theme, he visualizes the Savior extending an invitation for all to enter His presence.
“It is difficult to imagine how we could ever do so in the wicked world in which we live,” he said. “The magnificence of the Restoration provides the sacred keys that allow us to be made pure and clean through repentance, the Atonement, and our obedience.”
With the errors of each day continually piling up, the task of perfection can seem an insurmountable task, said Brother Randall L. Ridd, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency.
“It is only when we understand the wonderful message contained in the 2014 youth theme, Moroni 10:32, ‘Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him,’ that we are able to obtain ‘a perfect brightness of hope’ (2 Nephi 31:20).”
When the search for perfection is combined with the knowledge of the Atonement, the youth of the Church can realize true happiness, he added.
Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said perfection means “to be complete, to be complete in Christ.”
“He is the great finisher,” she explained. “We are not going to be complete on this earth, but through His grace we can become complete.”
Moroni 10:32 is filled with action words and teaches the youth what to deny and who to love, Sister Marriott continued. “There is so much ungodliness in the world. [The youth] are surrounded by ungodliness. How do we deny ourselves of it?
“This powerful scripture is a call to arms: Prepare yourself. You are surrounded by ungodliness. Deny it and come unto Christ. His grace will carry you from there. But we are required to take action.”
The most important “action,” said Sister McConkie, is to love God. She said she hopes the youth of the Church will recognize that everything they do “should have at its foundation the love of God.”
Sister Oscarson said that if the youth will deny themselves of ungodliness and love God, then the Savior’s grace will help them. “I love the principle of grace, and I think it is a principle that we need to teach our youth,” she said. “Yes, the Lord expects us to do everything with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, but there is no amount of effort on our part that really can save us, bring us back to God. In the end, it is the Savior’s grace that brings us the remainder of the way back to our Heavenly Father. We can’t do it without Jesus Christ and His grace. That principle of grace is so beautiful.”
Brother Ridd said the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood need to understand the important role in the atoning, perfecting process as they administer the sacrament each week.
“By extending the opportunity to members to partake of the sacrament, they are inviting them to ‘come unto Christ’ by renewing their baptismal covenants. They become more Christlike by participating in the atoning process of others,” he said.
Sister Marriott said the first word in the theme is the word “come.”
“What does ‘come’ mean?” she asked. “It requires effort. It requires movement. It requires might, mind, and strength. It is not just thinking about Christ. It is not even just loving Him. It is an invitation to take action and obey Him.”
Who doesn’t like to receive an invitation to do something? asked Sister Oscarson. “This is the ultimate invitation,” she declared. “This is at the core of the gospel.”
Sister McConkie added that as Latter-day Saint youth come unto Christ and truly love Him, “it will dictate the priorities in their lives, the choices that they make. And it will empower them to do the things that are required of them.”
Service is a by-product of drawing close to the Lord, added Brother Beck. “As you do, you will find this promise from President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, to be true: ‘When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed. You will be doing His work for Him. You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service’ (“Come unto Christ,” Liahona, Mar. 2008, 52).”