Elder D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered the Devotional address. He spoke about why we all needed a Savior, and how that can impact us this Christmas season.
He began by reading the memories of pioneers who told of simple and impoverished Christmas mornings, with apples and candy as presents. Elder Christofferson encouraged students to not be overwhelmed during the season, and to be thankful for their blessings.
“Let us be especially thankful for family and friends and the necessities and comforts of life,” Elder Christofferson said.
Elder Christofferson said December is also a time to reflect on the service of Joseph Smith, whose birthday is this month.
“It is hard fully to appreciate what he achieved as an instrument in the Lord’s hand in an environment of constant opposition, persecution and challenge. ‘Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,’” Elder Christofferson said. “I don’t suppose that in this dispensation anyone has learned to fear God and not man better than the Prophet. The Lord required some very hard things of Joseph. He did them, and we are all beneficiaries.”
Of the many things Joseph Smith did in this dispensation, we can also reflect on his relationship with and testimony of Jesus Christ.
Then Elder Christofferson shared an experience he had when a long-time member of the church asked him why she needed a Savior if she was a good person. Elder Christofferson admitted he was shocked at her lack of understanding, but he explained that we all need resurrection and redemption.
He acknowledged that, asked another way, the woman could have been asking something like, “If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why can’t He just save us all Himself. Why did God need a Savior for us?”
Elder Christofferson identified this way of thinking as similar to Nehor the antichrist’s teachings, and the proposition of the devil in the premortal life. If everyone was saved regardless of actions, then there would be no personal growth and no choices.
“[The Father’s plan] requires accountability for choices made—otherwise they aren’t really choices. Choice, in turn, requires law, or predictable outcomes,” Elder Christofferson said. “We must be able by a particular action or choice to cause a particular outcome or result and by the opposite choice create the opposite outcome. If actions don’t have fixed consequences, then one has no control over outcomes and choice is meaningless.”
Elder Christofferson taught that eternal laws are what make choices and consequences possible. God is a just God and governs according to law. We, His children, are not capable of keeping all the laws and enduring the consequences for incorrect choices. So God created mercy and a Savior, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the requirement of law and to extend mercy to all of us.
“So the answer to our question is no, God cannot act any way He pleases to save a person. He must do it in a way that upholds immutable law, and thanks be to God, he has done so by providing a Savior,” Elder Christofferson said.
In conclusion, Elder Christofferson advised students to not be overwhelmed with stress about the future and to reflect on the simple beginning of the Savior’s mortal life.
“Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours,” Elder Christofferson said.