Thursday, March 28, 2013

The gospel of inclusion

In our family scripture reading this morning, we read these words of the Savior:

And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

I was reminded again that the Lord's gospel is one of inclusion, not exclusion. The Savior repeatedly invites us to come unto Him; He does not send us away.

Even so, He also does not relax his standards or change His expectations for us. We are commanded to be perfect as He is. But as I grow in the gospel (and, though I've been at this over 45 years, God's not done with me yet!), I continue to learn that He does not expect me to be perfect overnight. In fact, I simply cannot be.

And that's another reason for His continuing invitations to come unto Him. If I am to follow His commandment to be perfect, it will be only through Him. His atoning sacrifice is the only hope I have of obeying Him.

But the other thing that I felt as I read that verse in 3 Nephi this morning is that I should make sure that I am not sending someone away; I also need to invite those around me to come unto Christ. I need to do that in the way I behave toward others, but I also need to directly invite people to come unto Him. Those people may include members of my family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.

I've written before about the lessons I have learned in my own family about inviting my children to be close to me, even if we do not see eye to eye on things that are important to us. I believe those lessons are consistent with the Savior's teaching, as well. We are not about sending people away, but we are about drawing people in -- drawing them into our circle of influence, drawing them near to us with charity, lifting them up, mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort. That drawing in and strengthening is at the very heart of our covenants as members of the Lord's church.


  1. Your post and the comments, were a pretty big influence on thihs blog post, and I have includeda link back to this post, for my readers to help see the influences that brought me to writing it.

  2. Julia I find your comment disingenuous as there have been no comments on this post. I am leaving your comment here but state clearly for my readers that I do not endorse the post you reference.

    1. I apologize. I had copied the comment from one of the other three blog posts I linked to. It posted before I had a chance to make the changes. (A major drawback with posting from an iPhone.)

      I can understand not endorsing my post, but reading your posts, (which are delivered to my inbox and I always look forward to) was the final impetus to write a post that I feel is an important part of inviting people to Christ. If we do not follow our own doctrine of respect for the beliefs of others, then we can't be surprised when we don't receive respect in return.

      I have had a fairly high percentage of my friends, boyfriends, husbands and a foster daughter decide to join the church. When each one has made the church to join the Mormon church, my surprised at their decision has been less if they have had little religious identity, but for those who are choosing to leave behind s religious tradition that they have been invested in, I am always amazed at the strength of their testimonies.

      I have a deep respect for the religious lives of many religions. Part of that comes from experiences in grade school where I learned to respect other religions by learning them alongside my friends, in their places of worship. I went with Tina to the classes to prepare for her First Communion because she didn't want to be the only girl there.

      (comment 1 of 2)

  3. Each summer all of the Mormon kids in my grade school went to Vacation Bible School at the Baptist church in town. I don't agree with the way they view the Holy Trinity, but I do understand it, and I understand why I Mormon God and Godess with physical bodies would be something that would rock their faith.

    When my friend Wendy took the classes to prepare for her bat mitzvah, having 1/4 Jewish blood was good enough for the young rabbi teaching the classes. I have a *deep* respect for the Jewish faith, and every once in a while, when I am struggling to figure out what is right, there will be a question and answer session at the end of class, in one of the lower rooms of the temple, whose concepts make most sense to me.

    I was lucky to have a childhood friend was Islamic. If Anwer was fasting for Ramadan, we were we. An invitation to break the fast after the sun goes down, is such a rich and deeply symbolic religious time. The contrast between the elegant and varied foods of the night, and the monistic daytime, where piety comes through prayer and the choice to not eat or drink.

    Honestly, I do not know if the LDS church is "The One True Church," but we are taught in our doctrine that many gain truth and enlightenment in ways that are in no way connected to the LDS church. As I was reading this OP, was very deeply touched by this paragraph:

    "But the other thing that I felt as I read that verse in 3 Nephi this morning is that I should make sure that I am not sending someone away; I also need to invite those around me to come unto Christ. I need to do that in the way I behave toward others, but I also need to directly invite people to come unto Him. Those people may include members of my family, friends, acquaintances and strangers."

    It brought into clear focus all the times that a friend had asked a question, or wanted to figure out the ways their religion differed from mine. Some of those memories go aall the way back to 3 rd grade, and when Countney wanting to talk about baptism. The feeling that I should listen, and then simply talk about the difference(s) without worrying about who is right, has been my best. (Except for loving parties with lots of people having fun together, it is my only real missionary tool.)

    I didn't link to your post because I thought we would agree. Part of what I love about reading your blog, is that you think things through ANC share that process. In this case, your thoughts sparked my thoughts, in the same way that the other posts I linked to go me thinking. Originally I was trying to come up with a way to make s bunch of short comments. After I read *this* post, I realized that it was the combination of an open and repeated invitation, and respect for the choices of others, especially when we disagree (11th AoF) that I felt compelled to share.

    Again, I apologize that the first comment was not edited. You are welcome to remove it if you choose.

    (comment 2 of 2)

  4. Julia thanks for writing more. I appreciate your experiences and am glad you shared them. I was reminded of when I was a boy. I had begun attending Primary with afriend from school. During the summer my mother invited my friend and his brothers to join me at vacation Bible school. I am certain my friends' mother's willingness to let them come with me meant a great deal to my mother and made it easier for her and mydad when they were invited to meet with the LDS missionaries.

    I also appreciate your thoughts on your linked post; the issue is not a simple one.

  5. Thanks Paul for a great post. This line of thought has been on my mind the last month in particular. How many times we invite others to Christ in word but our actions say something else. We profess to follow the Savior and seek to have Christlike love but then when we find someone breaking a commandment or doing something we don't like we withhold affection and using shaming to try to bring them back into line. It ends up being hypocrisy, and I've done it far too many times in my life. I think this is one of those natural man weaknesses that almost everyone has to overcome to some degree.

  6. Brenda, breaking through that cognitive dissonance between what we say and what we do is tough -- think of all those poor Pharisees... You are right: I think as a culture (western, not necessisarily just Mormon), we use shaming way WAY too much. I agree that these are part of that natural man to be overcome.