President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at Tuesday’s BYU Devotional about our identity as children of God.
President Ballard noted that different generations are often incorrectly categorized as though everyone born within a certain time span thinks and acts identically. Although the millennial and Gen Z generations are often scrutinized by the older generations, President Ballard highlighted three attributes he appreciates in the younger generations:
- A desire to understand individual identity and purpose.
- A commitment to a more sustainable future for all of God’s children, creatures and the earth.
- A desire for authenticity and transparency.
“I see how you ask difficult questions to promote change, providing you do not seek to compromise your eternal identity and purpose,” President Ballard said.
President Ballard also discussed the parallels between these generational attributes and our individual identities as daughters and sons of God.
“There is one important identity we all share now and forever,” said President Ballard. “You are and have always been a son or daughter of God, with spiritual roots in eternity… Those aren’t just words from a beloved Primary song.”
Understanding our divine identity provides a significant purpose to our lives, according to President Ballard. As children of God, we have a divine stewardship to protect and preserve the earth and to make life better for those who live on the planet. As we seek openness and awareness, we should begin our process with an openness and awareness of our role as a child of God. Our divine identity should be at the center of everything we do.
Although we instinctively want to associate with each other as children of God, President Ballard cautioned against adopting “group identities” based on false and incorrect ideologies that harm or marginalize others.
“Marginalizing and persecuting people based on age, gender, nationality, religious preference or anything else can be hurtful and misunderstood,” said President Ballard.
As we seek belonging, we may find ourselves aligning with political parties or national patriotism. Although we may be a member of a certain party, we are first and foremost citizens of our country.
President Ballard advised that the larger shared identity as citizens should be a uniting factor and help us overcome the “petty squabbling and demonization that has sadly become standard operating procedure in contemporary partisan politics throughout most of the world.”
On a global scale, we are all inhabitants of the same planet and depended upon each other for mutual survival, happiness and peace.
“We are all children of God,” President Ballard said. “That one simple, unifying fact should override all else that we allow to cause separation and division among us.”
That divine identity provides a core purpose in life: Children of God love the Lord and love their neighbors. This includes having compassion for those we meet, even if they belong to a different group.
Quoting John 13:35, Elder Ballard pointed to an identifying trait of children of God, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
“This does not deny the need for open and honest discussions on campus to resolve issues and deal with challenges,” Elder Ballard said. “What this provides is the antidote to anger, ill feelings, distrust, hate and demonizing one another. Of all the universities in the world, BYU should be where Jesus’s teachings and commandments are proclaimed, discussed and lived.”
Next Devotional: Steven M. Sandberg, BYU General Counsel
Steven M. Sandberg, assistant to the president and general counsel for BYU, will deliver the BYU Devotional on Tuesday, March 11, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.