Sister Julie B. Beck, former General Relief Society President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the 2019 BYU Women’s Conference by sharing her thoughts on the year’s theme of “seek this Jesus.”
The theme comes from Ether 12:41: “And now I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.”
This Jesus, His Covenant and His Doctrine
While many believers agree on aspects of Jesus’s life and ministry (celebrating his birth at Christmas, for example) there are also many disagreements about Him. The word “this” used to describe Jesus, said Sister Beck, makes Him specific. The wording gives an invitation for readers and attendees to ponder which Jesus they should seek.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are many primary songs that help even young children to start to see which Jesus they should seek. To illustrate this understanding, Sister Beck invited several of her primary-aged grandchildren to join her on the stand to “test” their knowledge of Jesus. Together, along with the audience, the group sang “He Sent His Son,” “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” and “Beautiful Savior.”
Even with this understanding in some circles, there are many who don’t understand Jesus or desire to understand him better. “The question still lingers in millions of hearts,” said Sister Beck. “‘Who is this Jesus we are to seek?’”
To seek this Jesus, believers must seek to understand His covenant and His doctrine.
“His doctrine is that we must exercise faith in Him, repent through His atonement, receive baptism by immersion in His name and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure throughout our lives in His covenant and service,” said Sister Beck.
The foundation for this understanding is the eternal covenant family. The earth was created for family and we were all born into mortality to prepare us for eternal families, said Sister Beck. Jesus Christ suffered and atoned for all our weaknesses and sins in order to perpetuate that covenant relationship.
Seeking This Jesus
Seeking this Jesus starts with faith. Sister Beck shared several scriptural examples of seeking with faith, including one from the Gospel of Mark about a woman who suffered from debilitating hemorrhage that distanced her from community and worship. When she heard about Jesus, she pushed through a crowd to touch the fringe of his robe, believing it would heal her. Touching the robe immediately made her whole and in that moment, Jesus felt power go out of Him.
“In a crowded space where a multitude was thronging Him, the Savior detected the faith of this woman that allowed His atoning grace to work a miracle for her,” said Sister Beck.
From this story, said Sister Beck, attendees can learn two things. First, they learn that even among a crowd, suffering and healing are personal. Second, they learn that faith is necessary to know Jesus. It is possible for someone to be in a group of followers (such as in meetings, classrooms and church activities) and not “touch” Jesus Christ with their faith in Him.
“It is possible to check all the boxes of advancement, participate in programs, serve in callings, even go on missions and through the rituals of making covenants, and still not possess sufficient faith to represent Him in our actions,” said Sister Beck.
“In reality, our life is meant to be a personal, faith-based work. No one can do it for us and we build our faith one day and one experience at a time.”
She has seen this faith-based work develop in her grandchildren as they have strengthened their testimonies, served in church callings and even gone on missions. It is by faith, said Sister Beck, that so many wonderful actions are possible. Faith allows for repentance, service, covenant marriage, personal revelation, temple work, forgiveness and more.
“It is through faith that we can cope with and live above unfairness, injustice and hurt. Through faith we can endure things we cannot alter, move ahead in trying times and laugh when we are sad. Through faith we can change, becoming better people,” said Sister Beck.
Sister Beck concluded by saying, “This Jesus is a God of might and mercy. He is real, and His work is real, and His covenants and ordinances have been restored with His priesthood power. At His invitation we are to “feel after Him” in a personal, daily, faith-based effort to “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.”