“Brothers and Sisters in Christ”

Elder Ulisses Soares

October 2023 General Conference Address

“Our dear prophet, Russell M. Nelson, declared: “I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.” As a global and ever-growing Church, following this invitation from our prophet is a vital prerequisite for building the Savior’s kingdom in every nation of the world.

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we are all begotten spirit sons and daughters of heavenly parents who truly love usand that we lived as a family in God’s presence before we were born on this earth. The gospel also teaches that we were all created in the image and likeness of God.Therefore, we are equal before Him,for He “hath made of one blood all nations of men [and women].”Therefore, we all have divine nature, heritage, and potential, for there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in [us] all.”

As disciples of Christ, we are invited to increase our faith in, and love for, our spiritual brother- and sisterhood by genuinely knitting our hearts together in unity and love, regardless of our differences, thereby increasing our ability to promote respect for the dignity of all the sons and daughters of God.

Wasn’t that exactly the condition that the people of Nephi experienced for almost two centuries after Christ ministered to them?

“And surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

President Nelson further emphasized the importance of spreading dignity and respect for our fellow beings when he stated: “The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent! … It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.” In reality, human dignity presupposes respect for our differences.

…However, as Paul warned the Ephesians, we must recognize that in order to achieve this purpose, it will be required to make an individual and collective effort to act with lowliness, meekness, and long-suffering toward one another.

…My dear friends, I can assure you that the light of a new day shines brighter in our lives when we see and treat our fellow beings with respect and dignity and as true brothers and sisters in Christ. During His earthly ministry, Jesus so perfectly exemplified this principle as He “went about doing good” unto all people, inviting them to come unto Him and partake of His goodness regardless of their origin, social class, or cultural characteristics. He ministered, healed, and was always attentive to everyone’s needs, especially those who at the time were considered different, belittled, or excluded. He denied none but treated them with equity and love, for He saw them as His brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same Father.

One of the most striking occasions when this occurred was when the Savior traveled to Galilee, purposely taking the route which passed through Samaria.Jesus then decided to sit by Jacob’s well to rest. While there, a Samaritan woman approached to fill her pitcher with water. In His omniscience, Jesus addressed her, saying, “Give me to drink.”

This woman was amazed that a Jew had asked a Samaritan woman for assistance and expressed her surprise, saying, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”

But Jesus, abandoning the long-held traditions of animosity between Samaritans and Jews, lovingly ministered to this woman, helping her to understand who He truly was—that is, the Messiah, who would tell all things and whose coming she was awaiting. The impact of that tender ministry caused the woman to run into the city to announce to the people what had happened, saying, “Is not this the Christ?”

I have deep compassion for those who have been mistreated, belittled, or persecuted by unfeeling and thoughtless people, because, in the course of my life, I have seen firsthand the pain good people suffer from being judged or dismissed because they happened to speak, look, or live differently. I also feel genuine sorrow in my heart for those whose minds remain darkened, whose vision is limited, and whose hearts remain hardened by the belief in the inferiority of those who are different from them. Their limited view of others actually obstructs their ability to see who they are as children of God.

As foretold by the prophets, we are living in the perilous days leading up to the Second Coming of the Savior. The world in general is polarized by strong divisions, accentuated by racial, political, and socioeconomic lines. Such divisions sometimes end up influencing people’s way of thinking and acting in relation to their fellow beings. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see people characterizing the way of thinking, acting, and speaking of other cultures, races, and ethnicities as inferior, making use of preconceived, mistaken, and often sarcastic ideas, generating attitudes of contempt, indifference, disrespect, and even prejudice against them. Such attitudes have their roots in pride, arrogance, envy, and jealousy, characteristics of a carnal nature,which are totally contrary to Christlike attributes. This conduct is improper for those who are striving to become His true disciples.In fact, my dear brothers and sisters, there is no place for prejudiced thoughts or actions in the community of Saints.

As sons and daughters of the covenant, we can help to eliminate this kind of behavior by looking at the apparent differences that exist between us with the Savior’s eyesand based on what we have in common—our divine identity and kinship. Moreover, we can strive to see ourselves reflected in the dreams, hopes, sorrows, and pains of our neighbor. We are all fellow travelers as God’s children, equal in our imperfect state and in our ability to grow. We are invited to walk together, peaceably, with our hearts filled with love toward God and all men—or, as Abraham Lincoln noted, “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” …

…United in purpose, we see one another with new eyes, and in our oneness, we celebrate our differences as divine children of God. …My dear brothers and sisters, may we align our hearts and minds with the knowledge and testimony that we are all equal before God, that we are all fully endowed with the same eternal potential and inheritance. May we enjoy more the spiritual kinship that exists between us and value the different attributes and varied gifts we all have.

…a new day will begin with a new light that will brighten our lives and illuminate wonderful opportunities to value more, and be more fully blessed by, the diversity created by God among His children.We will surely become instruments in His hands to promote respect and dignity among all His sons and daughters. God lives. Jesus is the Savior of the world. President Nelson is the prophet of God in our day. I bear witness of these truths in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.”