On 26 April 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the following revelation from the Lord: “For Zion must increase in beauty and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments” (D&C 82:14).
In all dispensations the Lord has exhorted the saints to build Zion, and today, more than ever, this invitation is addressed to each one of us. Sometimes we may think that we are too young, too old, too busy, not sufficiently talented, or too insignificant to help build the kingdom. That is not true! Feelings of inadequacy are not correct and come from the adversary. Each of us possesses talents the Lord can use.
So how can we actually participate in the real growth of the Church? How can I as an individual be effective in my efforts?
President Harold B. Lee gave us a clear answer by teaching that the real strength of the Church is measured by the strength of testimony of each of its members (Mexico Area Conference Report, Aug. 25-27, 1972).
Thus, real growth in the Church means each one of us staying faithful in our testimonies and active in our service; our youth staying chaste; our young men serving a faithful mission; our young men and young women marrying in the temple, remaining strong in the faith, and raising a righteous posterity. It also means integrating new converts by nurturing them with the good word of God, giving them friendship and support, and providing them with opportunities to serve.
Brothers and sisters, we can make growing the kingdom part of our everyday lives. Let me suggest four actions that will allow us to bring our strength to the Church.
1. Develop the desire: Whether we have been members for just a short while or for a very long time, we must cultivate the desire to do good, to be good, and to follow the example Jesus has given us. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
2. Repent: On our path to salvation, we must use the precious gift of the Saviour’s atoning sacrifice. We can seek His help to change. Repentance is an ongoing process that brings real progression to the soul. It does not simply require us to abandon our sins and bad habits, but implies that we develop good actions in their place and turn our hearts and our desires fully towards God.
3. Receive the ordinances of the gospel: “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:20-21). The ordinances are essential steps in our lives, and our goal must be to seek whichever ordinance is the next one for us. For some it will be baptism, for others to go to the temple, and for still others it will be to renew their covenants weekly by conscientiously partaking of the sacrament.
4. Live our conversion:“...As the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away” (Alma 23:6). This is the level of conversion we must seek. We must develop our faith to such a degree that whatever comes into our lives, whatever happens, we will remain firm and anchored in the gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, I truly know that individually and as a Church we can grow both in numbers and in personal righteousness, which will enable Zion to rise up and put on her beautiful garments.