Elder Soares’ talk explores several key themes centered around faith, peace, and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Elder Soares begins by describing the significance of Palm Sunday, a day commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This event is seen as the fulfillment of a prophecy given to Zechariah. Jesus rode into the Holy City on a donkey, a symbol of Jewish royalty, as a manifestation of His identity as the King of kings and the Prince of Peace. The crowds of jubilant disciples spread their garments and palm leaves along His path, shouting praises to God, acknowledging Jesus as the King who comes in the name of the Lord. This event, though joyful, foreshadows the somber events of the upcoming week, including Jesus’ selfless sacrifice and the miraculous empty tomb.
Promoters of Peace and Virtue
The talk highlights that as followers of Jesus, believers are called to be His peculiar people, tasked with promoting His virtues and the peace that He offers through His atoning sacrifice. This peace is a divine gift available to those who turn their hearts to Christ and live righteously. It provides the strength needed to navigate the trials of mortal life.
Lessons from the Pioneer Saints
Drawing on historical context, Elder Soares recalls an episode from 1847 when the Lord provided specific instructions to pioneer Saints facing unexpected difficulties during their westward journey. Among these instructions was the command to cease contention and to refrain from speaking evil of one another. This guidance illustrates the importance of unity and peace within the community of believers. It is stressed that individuals who practice righteousness and meekness are promised the peace required to navigate the challenges of the present times.
Living with Unity and Love
Elder Soares underscores the teachings of Jesus and the instructions given by modern prophets, emphasizing the importance of living with hearts knit together in unity and love for one another. Contention is condemned as it contradicts the principles that Christ stood for and taught. Believers are urged to actively resolve personal conflicts that may exist in their hearts and lives.
Charity as an Attribute
In the talk, the concept of charity is explored in detail. While charity is often associated with generous acts and donations to help those in need, the article emphasizes that it is not merely an action but also an attribute. It is an essential quality of Christ and should become a part of the character of His followers. The article references scripture that encourages believers to clothe themselves with the “bond of charity,” which is described as the bond of perfectness and peace. It is emphasized that without charity, individuals are spiritually lacking, and they cannot inherit the place the Lord has prepared for them in Heavenly Father’s mansions.
The talk illustrates how Jesus exemplified charity even in the face of difficult circumstances leading up to His crucifixion. Examples include Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, knowing that one of them would betray Him, and healing the ear of a man who had come to arrest Him. Even when unjustly accused before Pilate, Jesus responded without retaliation, leaving the Roman governor in awe. These incidents showcase how charity encompasses attributes such as patience, kindness, humility, and a lack of envy, pride, or selfishness.
Treating Others with Love and Compassion
Elder Soares emphasizes that one of the central aspects of discipleship and promoting peace is how individuals treat one another. The teachings of Jesus during His earthly ministry emphasized virtues like love, charity, patience, humility, and compassion. These qualities are considered gifts from God, and as believers work to develop them, they gain greater empathy, sensitivity, respect, and tolerance toward others. It is suggested that the way individuals treat others, especially in difficult circumstances, serves as a clear indicator of their progress toward becoming more like Christ.
Social Media and Negative Behavior
The talk addresses the prevalence of negative and derogatory comments, particularly in the age of social media. It is noted that people often engage in criticizing, ridiculing, and slandering others based on perceived characteristics, weaknesses, and differing opinions. This behavior is further perpetuated when these comments are shared without a full understanding of the context. Social media platforms are mentioned as environments that can encourage such negative behavior under the guise of relative truths and transparency. The consequences of this behavior include personal attacks, heated disputes, and the spread of hostility, which can lead to disappointment and harm.
The Adversary’s Tactics
Elder Soares draws attention to Nephi’s prophetic warning that in the latter days, the adversary would stir up anger against what is good. It is emphasized that everything inspiring goodness, love for God, and service to Him is inspired by God. Conversely, evil originates from the devil, who is constantly opposing God and tempting people to sin. The article identifies the adversary’s tactics as promoting enmity and hatred among God’s children. The adversary rejoices when people engage in criticizing, ridiculing, and slandering one another. This behavior, especially when individuals are unfairly judged, can damage a person’s character, reputation, and self-esteem.
Guarding Against Negative Behavior
Elder Soares’ talk underscores the importance of guarding against negative thoughts, words, and actions. It warns that individuals must be cautious not to become entangled in the adversary’s traps, which can destroy relationships with others and with loved ones. As believers and promoters of peace, individuals are urged not to allow corrosive burdens to take root in their hearts.
Transforming into Uplifting and Supportive People
Believers are encouraged to transform themselves into uplifting and supportive individuals. This transformation involves developing understanding, forgiving hearts, and seeking the best in others. It is emphasized that individuals should seek virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and good aspects in others. This transformation leads to greater cordiality and sensitivity to the needs of fellow beings. It also results in joy, peace, and spiritual growth.
The Promise of Tolerance and Forgiveness
The talk promises that as individuals pursue the development of Christlike attributes, they will become more tolerant and patient regarding differences, weaknesses, and imperfections in others. They will be better equipped to resist taking offense or retaliating against those who harm them. The desire to forgive, as Jesus did, those who mistreat or speak ill of them will increase and become a fundamental part of their character.
Elder Soares concludes his talk with a call to action on Palm Sunday.
Believers are encouraged to spread love and charity, much like the crowd did with palm leaves, as they prepare to celebrate the miracle of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. He invokes unity and joy in proclaiming “Hosanna to the Son of David” and testifies to the living presence of Jesus Christ. His perfect love, expressed through His atoning sacrifice, is extended to all who seek to walk with Him and experience His peace in this world and the world to come.
In a nutshell, Elder Soares emphasizes the importance of promoting peace, unity, and charity among believers as they follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.
The highlights the significance of developing Christlike attributes and warns against negative behaviors that can harm relationships and sow discord. Ultimately, the article calls for individuals to transform themselves into uplifting and supportive people, seeking the best in others and spreading love and charity, mirroring the message of Palm Sunday and the hope of the empty tomb.
Seven thought-provoking and open-ended questions for you to consider based on the article “Called to Serve” by Elder Ulisses Soares:
- How can you personally align your life more closely with the Savior’s mission and become a more effective instrument in His hands, as Elder Soares suggests?
- In what ways has the Holy Ghost influenced your life and your ability to share the gospel with others? Can you think of specific experiences when you felt guided by the Spirit?
- Elder Soares mentions that missionary work is not limited to full-time missionaries. How do you see yourself participating in missionary efforts in your daily life and within your sphere of influence?
- What are some practical steps you can take to strengthen your testimony of the gospel, as encouraged by Elder Soares? How has your testimony influenced your desire to share the gospel?
- Elder Soares speaks about the joy of uniting families through the gospel. How have you witnessed the gospel’s impact on families, and how can you contribute to strengthening families within your community?
- Can you recall moments when your obedience to God’s commandments led to specific blessings or opportunities in your life? How does Elder Soares’s message reaffirm the principle that obedience invites blessings?
- Elder Soares calls for members to actively participate in hastening the work of salvation. What specific actions or changes can you make in your life to contribute to this hastening of the Lord’s work in your area?