At the dawn of this year 2000, we marvel at the testimony of Joseph Smith concerning the words spoken to him as a young man 17 years of age. He was visited by Moroni in the night, and Joseph reports, “He [Moroni] called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (JS—H 1:33). And so it has happened.
This has become a great, cosmopolitan church. We rejoice in the tremendous growth of the work across the world. We are thankful for the deep faith and faithfulness of members of the Church. We all look upon one another as brothers and sisters, regardless of the land we call home. We belong to what may be regarded as the greatest community of friends on the face of the earth.
When the emperor of Japan was in the United States some years ago, I attended a luncheon for him in San Francisco. We sat at a table with three other couples who had had extensive experience in Japan and who had resided there at one time or another while working in government, business, or educational employment. One of the gentlemen said to me: “I have never seen anything like your people. We had many Americans come to Japan while we were there, and most of them experienced a severe cultural adjustment and much loneliness and homesickness. But whenever we had a Mormon family come, they had many instant friends. They and their children were immediately integrated socially as well as into your religious community. My wife and I talked about it many times.”
That is the way it should be. We must be friends. We must love and honor and respect and assist one another. Wherever Latter-day Saints go, they are made welcome, because Latter-day Saints are mutual believers in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and are engaged together in His great cause.
We speak of the fellowship of the Saints. This is and must be a very real thing. We must never permit this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to weaken. We must constantly cultivate it. It is an important aspect of the gospel.
Now, brethren and sisters, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (A of F 1:13).
That article of our faith is one of the basic declarations of our theology. We ought to reflect on it again and again. Then, whenever we might be tempted to do anything shoddy or dishonest or immoral, there would come into our minds with some force this great, all-encompassing statement of the ethics of our behavior. There would be less rationalizing over some elements of our personal conduct which we try to justify with one excuse or another.
Some would have us believe that the area between good and evil is largely gray and that it is difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong. For any who so believe, I recommend this beautiful statement of Mormon, quoted by his son Moroni: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God” (Moro. 7:16).
Let us establish in our lives the habit of reading those things which will strengthen our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He is the pivotal figure of our theology and our faith. Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God.
Brethren and sisters, we have nothing to fear if we stay on the Lord’s side. The Lord long ago gave great, reassuring words to this people:
“Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap. …
“Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. …
“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:33–34, 36).
If we will be prayerful, seeking wisdom from God, who is the source of all true wisdom; if we will cultivate a spirit of love and peace and harmony in our homes; if we will fulfill our assigned responsibilities in the Church with enthusiasm and faithfulness; if we will reach out to our neighbors and others in a spirit of Christian love and appreciation, helping those in distress wherever we may find them; if we will be honest with the Lord in the payment of our tithes and offerings, we shall be blessed as God has promised. Our Father has made explicit covenants with His people. He is in a position to keep those covenants. It is my testimony that He does so.
We belong to what may be regarded as the greatest community of friends on earth.
We must constantly cultivate the fellowship of the Saints—the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood—for it is an important aspect of the gospel.
A great encompassing statement for our behavior toward others is the thirteenth article of faith. We need to study it frequently.
If we look to the Lord in all our thoughts and deeds, we have nothing to fear concerning our future.