Shortly after becoming president of the Church, President Ezra Taft Benson made a statement that we as members of the Church have grown hearing again and again: “We are a marked generation.”
Make no mistake about it. The present-day situation we now face around the world is grimmer than it has ever been. The Lord has held in reserve some of his strongest children for the final inning. But while we are marked by President Benson for our role in the last days, we have been marked by society in other ways our entire lives.
By most, our generation is marked as the “entitled” generation, the generation of ease and expectations.
Even in video games, ease wasn’t enough. The original Nintendo, known for its thumb-blistering rectangle controller and stylish orange Duck Hunt gun, is long gone. Nowadays, a controller isn’t even necessary as the Wii teaches us to bowl, play tennis and baseball with the simple flick of the wrist.
With the advent of the Internet, the use of public libraries has become nearly nonexistent. Writing research papers can really be strenuous when Wikipedia is not considered an acceptable source. When the world once knew no more than pay phones, our generation is marked as the ones not able to put away their cell phones during class, or worse, during sacrament meeting.
It is the ease in spirituality that is perhaps the most troubling. Much is expected of our generation in this final inning and the leaders of the Church are making their best efforts to prepare us for the times to come.
The Church’s construction of temples has been nothing short of a miracle. In 1976, 146 years after the restoration of the Church, there was a grand total of 16 operating temples around the entire world. In 2010, just 34 years later, there are 130 operating temples with 22 more announced or under construction.
The number of temples operating in 1976 really pales when considering that there are now 15 temples operating or announced in the state of Utah alone.
In the last General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced, “Worldwide, 83 percent of our members live within 200 miles of a temple.”
The Church is no longer just in Utah, or in the United States for that matter. Of the 152 announced and operating temples, 79 are outside of the United States, while 73 are within U.S. borders.
In 1974, there were 3.3 million members of the Church, 18,600 full-time missionaries and 633 stakes. In just over 35 years, there are now 13.5 million members of the Church, 52,000 full-time missionaries and 2,800 stakes.
Many have worked to build temples and bring others to the restored gospel. Now it is our time to do the work.
We are fortunate to attend BYU-Idaho. It is a unique opportunity to obtain a secular and spiritual education at the same time. We have the unique opportunity to not only be taught by our professors, but literally, by apostles and prophets.
Since December 2008, a span of just 14 months, nine of the 15 apostles have visited the BYU-Idaho campus.
Last week, students had the opportunity to hear from two apostles in one week. An estimated 7,159 attended Elder Russell M. Nelson’s devotional in the Hart and overflow locations. With approximately 13,000 students on campus, that is 55.1 percent of the student body. Factoring in the faculty in attendance, this percentage is even closer to 50 percent, only half of the entire student body.
At Elder M. Russell Ballard’s fireside, approximately 1,000 tickets were left unordered or unclaimed when tickets were re-released just 24 hours before the fireside. Sections of seats remained vacant during his remarks.
Many were unable to attend these events, for one reason or another. That is understandable. But, whether one was in attendance or not, each of us should personally reflect on President Benson’s statement:
“The final outcome is certain — the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?”
When the new 15,000-seat auditorium is dedicated at the end of the year, will it be left half-empty the next time an apostle visits campus?
Make a different mark for yourself. Let us all come together as students and faculty at BYU-Idaho. Working together as a campus of Zion, we will be a truly marked generation — a generation no longer known for living in ease and expectation, but a generation that is true to our last days, foreordained mission.