There is a large relief sculpture on the wall of the church I attended as a boy. It depicts the Savior and the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well. As a little boy, I pondered on the tree, the well, the Savior, the woman, the city in the distance, and the approach of the disciples. As I grew older, I learned more about the account as recorded in John. In later years I have reflected on the message the Savior taught the woman of Samaria.
“Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” The woman was amazed that he would talk to her. The Master said: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:7, 9–10.) It is evident that she was talking about well water and he was talking about “living water.”
This difficulty of understanding about water recalls the story of a sailing ship that had become disabled in a storm. It drifted aimlessly for many days. The crew and passengers became famished and parched from lack of food and water. Finally another ship came into view. They signaled frantically for water. The other ship replied, “Let down your buckets where you are.” This communication made no sense at all, for they supposed they were far out to sea in typical ocean water. Again the famished ones requested water. Again the signal came, “Let down your buckets where you are.” They could not know that they had drifted into the mouth of a great river and that the water beneath them was fresh and could save their lives. The water of life lay just beneath them, yet they were dying for lack of this knowledge.
Like those passengers, multitudes of people are thirsting for “living water,” and they know not where to find it. Like the people on the other ship, we are signaling that we have found the “living water.” It has brought us the abundant life. It has made us happy, healthy, and serene. We who enjoy the abundant life want to share this happiness. You, too, may want to drink of this “living water.”
A friend of mine told me this experience: A financially successful man came home from work one day and said, “Dear, there has got to be more to life than just getting up, going to work, making money, watching TV, eating and sleeping, and then doing it all over again! We have all the money we need. Why doesn’t this satisfy us? Somehow we are missing the purpose of life. What is our dilemma? Could it be possible that it is religion we are missing?” In the conversation that followed, his wife mentioned the Mormons. After serious investigation they soon found satisfying answers to their questions and joined the Church.
You ought to know that the greatest problem in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the problem of growth. The Church needs to complete a building nearly every day in order to keep up with the growth. Although the Church has been maligned and scoffed at over the years, today it is becoming recognized as the one church whose members enjoy the abundant life spoken of by the Savior.
In the next few minutes I would like to explain why this message appeals to people.
This message appeals to men because in the Church you are the head of your family. Your proper role is provider, spiritual leader, father. In the Church, the priesthood is available. For instance, you may baptize your children, bless you wife when she is ill, perform other church ordinances.
When you join the Church, you are generally called to positions of service as an officer or teacher. You are able to give talks in church or visit other families and see to their temporal and spiritual needs. You soon discover that everything about the Church strengthens your family. You will enjoy a weekly family home evening. You will find strength and peace in daily family prayer.
This message appeals to men because in the Church you become a better man. You are better physically because you keep the Word of Wisdom and avoid those things harmful to your body. You are better spiritually because your goals are clarified. You learn more about your relationship with your Heavenly Father. You are motivated to be a more understanding father, a more faithful husband. You will find that the Church fills every need and fosters every virtue of manhood.
The Church appeals to you women because you find your true identity as a woman and a person. You are glorified in your unique role as a wife and mother. Whether you are married or single, you will be a member of the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. You will continue to learn in fields of special interest to women: cultural refinement, spiritual living, social relations, and homemaking. The feminine virtues of a woman are strengthened by the Church. Your companionship with your husband can be eternal, as also your relationship to your family. You will have an outlet for your special talents of compassionate service in satisfying ways that develop and fulfill your womanly virtues.
And now to you young people. In the Church you will find that you won’t sit in the bleachers and watch. You will be on the team. You will play basketball and softball, baseball and tennis, checkers and Ping-Pong, volleyball and golf. There is much to do. You will be able to help with service projects. You will give talks, be in plays, sing in choruses, compose skits. You are the leaders, advised by adults. You young men get to be missionaries and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ someplace in the world for two years at your own expense. You young ladies get to give them up while they serve. Somehow all this works out well and makes better marriage partners of both.
In a lonely world, brotherhood in the Church really means something. Everyone needs to be loved. Everyone needs to be needed. Everyone has some kind of talent and wants to use it. Somehow in the magic of this marvelous organization you can find your place and make your contribution. When you serve, you find purpose to life. The Church hath need of every member. (See D&C 84:110.) You need not be alone. We are a busy and active people and love to serve each other. Whether you are young or old, married or single, you are needed in the Church. You get involved in wholesome activities that build and strengthen friendships.
People live longer nowadays. There are more older people. You who are older are not left without something to do. We need the power and energy of youth. We also need the wisdom of age. Classes need both teacher and students. You never cease to learn in the Church. We need you. Many people work in the temple each day. The temple environment is next to heaven itself, and you associate among the best.
Despite medical marvels, ill health and early death still rob men not only of life but of the zest for life. We are a healthy people. I quote briefly from a recent report in the Washington, D.C. Post: “Mormons neither drink nor smoke, and they stress clean living. They also die of cancer at half the rate of other Californians. This is not surprising, since many cancers—especially cancer of the lungs, one of the biggest killers—have been linked to tobacco and alcohol.
“Moreover, among Mormons in Utah, the annual cancer rate is approximately 2 Mormons for every 3 non-Mormons.” (“Lower Cancer Toll Is Found for Mormons in Calif. Study,” Nov. 18, 1974.)
Dr. Harry Schwartz, professor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, has said, “Statistics show Utah is the healthiest state in the 48, if not the entire union. If you believe the statistics, any sensible person would pack up and move to Utah.” He suggested three areas which might be looked into as part of the explanation—the Mormon dietary laws, genetics, and the lack of poverty. (Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 21, 1974.) Our health record is unusual.
We believe and obey a revelation from God. It says “wine or strong drink … is not good. … Tobacco is not for the body, … hot drinks (meaning tea and coffee) are not for the body.” (D&C 89:5–9.) Obedience to this law qualifies us to receive the promised blessings: we shall receive health, wisdom, strength, and protection. (See D&C 89:18–21.) We do not worry. We have an inner peace and quietude. Even knowing the calamities we may face, we know we will have the promised blessings and protection of the Lord.
The Church appeals to people—because it is true! All of the other reasons are secondary to this one.
The Church was founded by God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ through a personal visitation to the earth. They called Joseph Smith to be a prophet. The Church contains the fulness of the gospel. All the principles and ordinances that pertain to the abundant life are here. The Church is built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets. The priesthood authority rests with the Church. The restoration and rise of the Church in the latter days fulfills scriptural prophecy. The other scriptures—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price clarify and sustain the Bible. They testify that Jesus is the Christ.
In the latter-day scriptures the Lord speaks of “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” (D&C 1:30.) There is much difference between a dead and living church. While one may have the form and shape, the ritual and dimension, the living church has life. A living prophet leads the Church today. There is a vibrant, living movement to it, a captivating spirit about it, a glory to it that lifts and builds and helps and blesses the lives of all it touches. The Church will move forward to its divine destiny with or without you, because it is true. Everything else in the Church is built upon the foundation of truth. That is why the Church grows so rapidly. That is why the message appeals to families. That is why, in the lonely world, brotherhood means so much. That is why we have a feeling of calm assurance, purpose, and peace.
Every member is entitled to a personal testimony that these things of which I have spoken are true.
We have tasted of the living water, for we know the source. Like those on the rescue ship, we signal to you, “Let down your buckets where you are.” Like the passengers on the ill-fated ship, it may seem strange to you to learn that salvation has been so near to you all the time. Listen to the message. Try to understand it. Honestly test the truth of our message. You may drink freely of the waters of life found in the living Church. We invite all men to come and share our joy and truth and peace. I bear my solemn testimony that it is found in the Church, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.