Friendship with Christ

    Area Leadership Message

    Elder Erich W. Kopischke,
    Elder Erich W. Kopischke Second Counselor, Europe Area Presidency

    Shortly before the Saviour finished His earthly ministry, He met with his Apostles. He knew that He was about to bring to pass His greatest gift for all mankind. He knew that this entailed the suffering in Gethsemane and the cruel death on the cross. He also knew that after His suffering, death, and resurrection, His disciples would have to carry forth His mission. He knew that it was not enough to just provide the precious gift of the Atonement, but that it was as important for mankind to accept His gift. Therefore, His teachings largely focused upon how we, as His disciples, can make the most of this gift.

    One point that the Savior made was the importance to stay close to Him. He said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”[1]

    He then made clear how we can stay close to Him by emphasizing: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you…  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”[2]

    Christ shared a simple formula how we can access the blessings of His Atonement in our daily lives and enjoy His help and friendship by simply doing three things: Believing in Him and His words, loving one another, and keeping His commandments.

    Today I only wish to emphasize the first point: Believe in Him and His words. When we face personal challenges in life and things become difficult, do we really believe in Him? Do we believe that His teaching applies to us in a very personal way? He said: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”[3] Isaiah shared this comforting thought: “…. the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces”[4]

    Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love, and to be married. The day before his wedding, his fiancé drowned in a tragic accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While there, working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students.

    Once again, Joseph's hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before their wedding. Although we can only imagine this young man’s inner turmoil, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him.

    He never married but spent the remainder of his life, giving all his time, money, and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate. He dedicated his life to spreading Christ-like love and compassion wherever he went.

    Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote her a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

    What a Friend We Have in Jesus (Melody Israel, Israel God is Calling)

    What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

    What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

    O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

    All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

     

    Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

    We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.

    Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?

    Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

     

    Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

    Precious Savior, still our refu9e, take it to the Lord in prayer.

    Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

    In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

     

    Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear

    May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.

    Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer

    Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

     

    I pray that during this Easter season, we will come to know in a most personal way that Jesus Christ is our friend ready to comfort, assist, and heal if we only believe in Him and His words.[5]


    [1] John 15:5

    [2] John 15:7, 11-14

    [3] John 14:1

    [4] Isaiah 25:8

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