President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered Tuesday's address. He spoke on the responsibility BYU has to maintain its uniqueness as it goes forward into its second century.
President Oaks declared that the purpose of a church university is to provide an education for eternity as well as education for our mortal journey.
He taught that in order to gain vital education, students must magnify the university’s uniqueness in three ways: not diluting existing truth, focusing on undergraduate education and establishing a personal and institutional relationship with God.
Referencing President Spencer W. Kimball’s 1975 address, “The Second Century of Brigham Young University,” President Oaks reiterated that BYU’s uniqueness should not just be based on being different academically from other universities, but rather on the ability to heed prophetic counsel and revelation.
“Our uniqueness will always be rooted in our following the inspiration we prayerfully seek in our personal work and receive from the university administration and our prophetic leaders.”
BYU has a responsibility to “dare to be different” even if it is a minority compared to the rest of the world, President Oaks said. Students and employees of the university need to stay rooted in the doctrines and standards of the gospel even when it is difficult and they are mocked for doing so.
Specifically addressing BYU students, President Oaks questioned if they are willing to be different and stand against the rest of the world.
“More important than what you do as a student are the choices you are making in your personal life — the priorities you are adopting consciously or subconsciously. Are you going forward against the world’s opposition?”
In order to keep the Lord and His work at the top of our priorities, President Oaks encouraged the audience to never take a break from attending church meetings. He continued by saying that by pursuing church activity and service, each person's light will shine to influence others for good.
“When we dare to be different, we choose to engage fully in the Restored Church. We keep our covenants. We have the courage to follow all the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. We stand up personally for those who are marginalized.”
President Oaks reinvited audience to follow President Russell M. Nelson's advice to “stand out, be different from the world.” He said that in order to do this, each person must be willing to put the Lord and His commandments first, no matter the social punishment.
“The love of neighbor — however important — does not come ahead of the love of God and obedience to His commandments.”
While God has unconditional love for His children, President Oaks explained that this does not excuse anyone from accountability when breaking His commandments. Jesus was ever-loving during His mortal ministry, but always direct in His expectations.
President Oaks promised that as members of the audience build their testimony on our Savior, they will be able to reach the charge from Jesus Christ to “Be ye therefore perfect.”
“We proceed toward that divine condition by priorities that follow the Savior without being compromised by worldly values and behavior.”