The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found in the hearts of its members, said President James E. Faust on March 1.
And "when it is in our individual hearts, it will also be in our great buildings of worship, in our lovely educational institutions, in our magnificent temples, as well as in our homes and families," said President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Speaking during a weekly BYU devotional, President Faust answered the question, "Where is the Church?"
A crowd of more than 20,000 attended the devotional, held in the BYU Marriott Center on the Provo, Utah, campus.
President Faust told the congregation that some time ago he was walking in the center of Salt Lake City when a car with an out-of-state license plate pulled over and asked, "Where is the church of the Mormons?" President Faust directed the visitor to Temple Square.
"May I now ask you the same question?" he asked the devotional assembly. "Where is the Church?"
President Faust said the Church cannot just be in its chapels, although neat and clean. The Church cannot also, in and of itself, be just in temples, "magnificent as they are, because the temple buildings alone do not bless. They are exquisite containers for the pearls of great price administered therein by the priesthood of God."
So, President Faust continued, "Is the Church, then, in our families?
"A family can foster the teachings of the Savior better than any other institution," he said. "In large measure, the Church exists to strengthen families."
President Faust said he wished to define family very broadly including traditional families, single-parent families, Church families and ward families.
"Because of the erosion of family life and family values, we frequently hear urgent pleas requesting the Church, as an organization, to take over activities formerly considered family activities. I wonder if our maturing youth can hold everything together without family home evening, daily family prayer, and daily scripture study.
"I say this because I am persuaded that family activities can be more effective in fostering the eternal values of love, loyalty, honesty, chastity, industry, self-worth and personal integrity than any other institution."
President Faust said he believes families with enough internal caring, discipline, commitment and love can somehow some way handle the majority of their problems.
"However strong or weak the family may be, it can usually provide a better solution to most challenges than can any other institution in society or the government, no matter how well intentioned it may be," he said.
The principle reason a caring family is the best antidote for problems is that unqualified love can flow from kinship relationships, he added.
"Successful families usually have a strong, caring head. Ideally this would be a holder of the priesthood. . . . Priesthood is desirable because whomsoever is blessed by this power, God will bless. But there have been many successful caring heads of families who are mothers, grandmothers, and others. What seems to distinguish a successful family is that the members of the family continue to care. They don't give up. They never quit. They hang together through hardship and death and other problems."
President Faust said the fact that some Church members do not have functioning families is no reason to move in a direction that would diminish or abandon family activities among those who can and should foster them.
"With the increased onslaught of forces that cause families to disintegrate, we ought to dig in our heels to preserve all that is great and good in the family," he said.
So, he continued, the family "is and must always be" an important part of the Church. "But the Lord's kingdom ultimately must be found in our hearts before it can be anywhere else," he said.
What a person does or does not do in life originates in the heart, said President Faust.
For example, as Daniel of old stood in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon who had captured Jerusalem, " 'Daniel, purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank' (Daniel 1:8). From then on Daniel held to that purpose. It eventually brought him the highest of heavenly and earthly honors."
Revelation, President Faust said, comes to Church members' minds, but it also comes to their hearts. He quoted a revelation to Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 8:2, which reads: "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart."
President Faust observed, "To me it is very interesting that the dwelling place of the Holy Ghost is in our hearts."
But the keys of the kingdom, he said, rest with the president of the Church. It is that authority which activates all activities of the Church. Without priesthood keys and authority there would be no Church.
President Faust said, in retrospect, he could have answered the person who asked, "Where is the church of the Mormons?" differently. "I could have pointed to my chest and said that the Church should be first and foremost in our hearts, then the traveler would surely have been somewhat bewildered. But that response would have been more accurate than to direct him to our buildings, sky-piercing spires, the great majestic dome and the other world-famous monuments and edifices wonderful and unique and great as they are.
"It would have been more correct because the Lord said, 'The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17:20-21)."
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