In the April 1972 Priesthood session of General Conference, Apostle N. Eldon Tanner gave a talk on the Priesthood that impressed me in a few different ways.
One of the things that stood out to me was that he said "we must always be humble, proud, and never ashamed of the priesthood we hold. We are different, a peculiar people, and must remain different in the cause of truth and righteousness."
What a statement this is when applied to us in today's time. Though it has only been 44 years since this talk was given, we live in a time of open ridicule and disdain for the things of God. We are constantly hearing and receiving accusations that are intended to make us ashamed of our church, our beliefs, and our way of living. The secular concerns of society have taken the new position as a "gospel" of our time. As a society, we are much more preoccupied with issues of cultural appropriation and "safe spaces" than with living a life dedicated to God and His gospel. The moods of our society swing back and forth like a pendulum, with such severe disagreements as to who is correct, that many lose sight of our equality and similarities, in the fight to prove the "other side" wrong. Brotherhood and Sisterhood are forgotten, and the lines of battle are drawn while insults are flung at each other across the barriers that we have put up between ourselves.
How much more necessary and needed, then, is the gospel at such a time as this! Our society desperately needs a people who see each and every person on earth as a child of a loving Heavenly Father. Barriers of language, race, politics, and belief can be overcome when we are reaching out to each other instead of magnifying our differences.
"We are different from the world. We have the revealed gospel and the priesthood. We must be exemplary wherever we are."President Tanner told this story:
I was talking to a young man who is going to be baptized next month, the only member of his family to be baptized, and I said, “What caused you to be interested in the Church?”As President Tanner said, some of us fear that we will lose prestige, or perhaps we fear ridicule from our family, friends or colleagues. The internet today has only magnified the ability of people to ridicule others, and it is indeed a scary thing to think of the hate of thousands or millions being flung at you for a disagreement over what is right in their eyes.
And he replied, “The young man I was associating with in school was a member of your church, and the way he lived interested me. He was different from the rest of the boys. He was happy, and he invited me to his home; and when I saw the love in that home and how that family lived, I was more interested. He took me to church, and then I joined the ball team, and I found in that church a different feeling than I had found any other place. Then that ball team, those fine fellows all keeping the Word of Wisdom and living good clean lives, impressed me, and I determined that I would join the Church.”
He went on to say: 'I came with that friend out to Brigham Young University to attend one semester. I wanted to get acquainted with the people out here. I found most of those young people down there living the way they should, but if I hadn’t determined to be a member of this church before I met some of the others, I don’t know what effect it would have had on me.”
We must be in the world but not of it.
Let us be that peculiar people, and take comfort in the fact that though we may not always agree with the world, and though we may be ridiculed or demonized by it--we are in fact on the Lord's side. He will sustain us and guide us. Let us not fear as we share the gospel with the world. It is in need of the love, peace and understanding that the Spirit of the Lord brings.
Read more posts in the General Conference Odyssey:
What has the Church ever Done for Us? by Nathaniel Givens
Vaunting by G.
The Power of God Resting Upon the Leaders of This Church by Daniel Ortner
Remembering the Stranger by Walker Wright
The Priesthood, Three Reasons to Honor It by Jan Tolman