Friday, August 25, 2017

Unity Among the Churches - Part of Zion?

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the treadmill watching a new episode of one of my favorite shows. It's an evangelical Christian show, and I love that the host of the show often interviews people who have had miraculous experiences that changed their lives profoundly.

On this particular episode, the guest began talking about being a Mormon. I thought to myself, "Wow! The host is interviewing a Mormon. This is awesome!" Then as she continued, she began to say that she was brought into Mormonism by a step father during her rebellious teenage years. She wasn't happy to be on board and was in a dark place making bad choices. Long story short, she came to know the Lord through another church and because that experience changed her and pulled her out of her dark place she was now on a mission to share.

I began to think about how we are all at different places in our lives. We are all at different levels of learning and understanding. We are on different journeys but we all have the same destination which is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what resonates with us and how we best learn. We all have different learning styles, different perspectives and different experiences we have been through that has shaped the way we think. This is why we should never judge other people's paths and we should never allow other people's paths or choices create doubt upon our own decisions and where the Spirit has led us.

The Lord will reach us however He can. He will lead us to people who resonate with us, and speak our language. He will lead us to whatever we are ready for and will never force upon us, knowledge that we are not ready to learn, understand, or accept. It's line upon line. A little light here, a little light there until our light gradually increases, and we are ready for more.

I had love and compassion for this woman as I truly believe she felt she was doing her very best. As the interview progressed, she began to talk about how Mormon's are deceived and are not Christian and will not be saved. She said that we teach our members to avoid Christians and not talk to them (That defeats the mission of the Church). She had created brochures and presentations on why Mormonism was wrong. I truly feel that from what she shared, she did not take make the effort to wholeheartedly study out the gospel or ponder it while attending off and on the LDS church in her teenage years. Her heart wasn't in it and she was in a dark place - but nonetheless I respected her beliefs and experiences.

At this point in the video, I felt a desire to share the truth. It did sadden me to hear what is so precious to me, spoken of this way. I have written posts earlier this year about beautiful stories of evangelical Christians who joined the LDS church because they saw and felt Christ in the members. Our church belongs to Jesus Christ. It is His Church not ours. We take on Christ's name and strive to be like Him. We are very much Christian in every way. I felt that so many would watch this video and take her opinions as truth. I couldn't be passive, or silent. I needed to share my perspective.

When I found the video in YouTube, I scrolled down through the comments. There were so many negative comments about Mormons being evil and of the devil. And so many statements that just were not true. There was one lone woman who was not a Mormon but stood up for the LDS church regardless and pointed out that we are good people who work hard to serve the Lord. That made me smile, and I thought, "Yes. We need to support and defend each other more often. We should never speak falsehoods or make unkind comments about other churches and their members - and have an us vs. them mentality. Instead of making invested efforts to prove other religions are 'wrong' as this woman had done, we should focus on what is 'right' about them and their members & communities, and how they are doing the best they can to serve the Lord, the best way they know how. We should take that energy and serve. We need to unite not divide."

If we truly are serving the Lord, doing His will, and have a personal relationship with Him, we would only feel inspired to serve, love, uplift, and share, with no other motives other than pure charity. If our motives are to show someone they are wrong, or to make them feel ashamed of their beliefs, or to make them fear that they have been deceived or have not been saved, then we need to re-evaluate those motives - they are not pure.

So, here is the comment I made:

I love ______ and I never miss an episode. I was saddened when I watched this episode and the guest spoke of Mormons as not being Christian. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (AKA Mormon) Jesus Christ is the center of my life. He and the Father are all I worship. Everything I do, I do it in His name and for Him. I have had the most beautiful supernatural experiences with Jesus and with Heaven which is why I'm a fan of this show. I can relate! Jesus is in my heart and the very core of who I am. The Spirit is my constant companion and my personal teacher. I enjoy the most beautiful spiritual gifts that I use daily to bless everyone. I have never been taught by anyone in my church to avoid Christians of other churches, that's the opposite of what Christ taught. That's not the gospel we practice as believers and followers of Christ. I have so many friends and family members of other religions & faiths and I love them just as much as my fellow church members. I am sorry this woman's experience was different. The gospel of Jesus Christ that I have studied my entire life has brought me closer to God and helped me become an amazing mother, wife, leader, and friend. I live to serve and love others. I feel so blessed, charitable, and loved. I have been a part of and witnessed healing miracles of biblical magnitude. I have participated in creative miracles. I've had beautiful encounters with the Holy Spirit daily and beautiful pictures of the Savior all over my home. I have been born of the Spirit and I feel so blessed - I will never be the same. It hurt my heart to hear Mormons spoken of this way. I believe that God has a plan for everyone. Every plan is tailored just for that person and what they need. We all came here to learn what we needed to and to help others whom God needs us to help. God leads us each to where He needs us to be. We all have a purpose and we all have great value in His Kingdom. Wherever you are right now is exactly where God needs you to be. Your imperfect life is perfect in Gods eyes because He knows the plan. Where the Lord leads me, may be different than where He leads you but it doesn't mean either of us is lost or misled. If Jesus truly is our Shepard and we truly believe in Him as our personal Savior and the only way to salvation and we do all that we can to be like Him and love like Him, that's what matters most. I could never judge any of Gods children and determine whether or not they belong to Christ based on what church they belong to. Your relationship with Christ is very personal and between you and Him. Wherever the Spirit has led you to be right now, is where you should be and that's why it feels so right and so good. We all have the same destination but a different journey and plan for getting there and that's what's so beautiful about Gods mysterious ways. If I had a judging heart I would not be able to experience such beautiful experiences as I have - that have really built my testimony and foundation on Christ. My open heart and mind leads me to many spiritual giants of many different faiths who I believe all have something valuable to offer. I wish my brothers and sisters in Christ could be more compassionate towards and accepting of my faith. I wish we could join together on what we have in common. We could accomplish so much good! I wrote this message from my heart and send love and prayers to everyone out there! ❤️❤️

...Different faiths  naturally have doctrinal differences but it's my hope that we can steer away from our differences, debates, arguments, and comparisons and focus on what we have in common which is our undeniable love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We all seek to follow Him and try our best to be like Him. God is so very proud of each of us through all our differences, mistakes, and weaknesses. Only He knows what's truly in our hearts. We are all doing our very best with what the Spirit has taught us and God knows that and delights in our genuine desires. It's my prayer that we can begin to see ourselves and all of God's children the way that He sees us and through that we can have nothing but unconditional love for each other, a desire to serve one another, be friends with one another, and unite on our common foundation of Christ. We are children of the Most High God and that makes us all brothers and sisters - and that's pretty awesome!! ❤️❤️

For an entire week, no one commented on my comment, or liked it, or disliked it. It stood on it's own and I think it made a powerful point. Since then, one person has commented and thanked me for opening my heart and asked me to consider reading this woman's book. I didn't reply, but I will say that I haven't felt impressed by the Spirit to read it, nor to share her name in this post. I don't wish to slander her character in any way, nor lead other people to feel the need to speak against her, so I will keep that information quiet, it's not what's important. 

The purpose of sharing this experience is to bring awareness that this is another tactic that Satan is using to divide our country and the children of God. When we are busy squabbling with others over politics, religion, world views, and even squabbling with others within our own church over doctrine and personal beliefs, we are helping out the Adversary. He wants us to forget what has been prophesied by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Doctrine and Covenants 27:13-14

13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in gone all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:22,28

22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;

28 And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man.

Matthew (JST) 1:27 

27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.

John 11:52

52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

Mark 13:27

27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

In reference to the Kingdom of God and what it truly means for everyone on the earth - Brigham Young taught,

"The Kingdom we are talking about, preaching about and trying to build up is the Kingdom of God on the earth, not in the starry heavens, nor in the sun. We are trying to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth to which really and properly everything that pertains to men—their feelings, their faith, their affections, their desires, and every act of their lives—belong, that they may be ruled by it spiritually and temporally (DBY, 339)."

"When the Kingdom of God is fully set up and established on the face of the earth, and takes the preeminence over all other nations and kingdoms, it will protect the people in the enjoyment of all their rights, no matter what they believe, what they profess, or what they worship (DBY, 440)."

Evangelical, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Jehovah Witness, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Protestant, Mormon, etc. if our hearts are in Jesus, we are all on the Lord's team. Doctrinal differences aside, we all believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Together we make up the children of God. We are brothers and sisters. As Moroni tells us, God gives gifts unto all of His children, not just members of a particular church. These gifts are used to bless and benefit all. On this earth, it is the Lord's Kingdom against Satan's Kindom - there are no other teams to be on. When we try to be like Christ, and serve like Him, love like Him, we become His hands on this earth. We truly are on the same team and He uses all of us for His different purposes. He is gathering us all together into one fold. Let's not forget that. We should be rejoicing in this!

Dallan H Oaks
Dallan H. Oaks said it best when he said,

"We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12)."

Perry Stone
Lastly, I came across an interview with Evangelist author and minister Perry Stone. He shared some visions he had of the last days that are very similar to many Latter-day Saint visions I have heard. I found it very genuine and humbling when he counseled the viewers in part 2 of the interview,

"Don't fall out with people who differ from you. Try to understand, 'why do they believe that?' have to show love even in unlovable times, when people are not returning love back...Jesus said they are going to know you by the love you show one another. So we've got to start treating each other better."

Furthermore I found it fascinating when he said, 

"I believe there is a remnant church that is going to come together. There will be baptists in it, there will be Methodists in it, there will be Spirit filled Catholics, there will be Pentecostals, Charismatic, Episcopalians, and they are going to be truth seekers and truth lovers. They are going to love the Word so much, that you're going to see them together in meetings and conferences, going together, and praying together, and meeting together, and God is going to pull a fragmented bride together and he's going to come at with what is His true bride without wrinkle or blemish." 

Brigham Young
I believe this to be a big part of the gathering, as the righteous from all over the world will gather together. Brigham Young said,

“By and by the Jews will be gathered to the land of their fathers, and the ten tribes, who wandered into the north, will be gathered home, and the blood of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, which is to be found in every kingdom and nation under heaven, will be gathered from among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles who will receive and adhere to the principles of the Gospel will be adopted and initiated into the family of Father Abraham, and Jesus will reign over his own and Satan will reign over his own” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 121–22).

Spencer W Kimball
Spencer W. Kimball said,

"This gathering shall continue until the righteous are assembled in the congregations of the Saints in the nations of the world." (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 438–39).

In Nephi 1:14 we learn that there are only two teams: the Church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil. The Saints of God in all nations are persecuted by the great and abominable church (the devil). Here is a great podcast on the Church of the Lamb, by LDS institute instructor Mike Stroud.

According to the LDS Bible Dictionary, the word saint is a translation of a Greek word also rendered “holy,” the fundamental idea being that of consecration or separation for a sacred purpose; but since what was set apart for God must be without blemish, the word came to mean “free from blemish,” whether physical or moral. 

We know that during the Millennium, good and just members of many religions will be living upon the Earth. It will be Zion on the Earth. Leading up to that time, as the earth gets more wicked, I believe many people of different faiths will come together as there is strength in numbers. It will no longer be this church vs. that church but instead a united stance of righteousness vs. evil. 

It is my hope and prayer that we can set not just our theological differences aside but all of our differences aside, and do our best to love all of our brothers and sisters. By doing so we will become pure in heart, the very definition of Zion, and will further prepare the earth to be ready to receive our Savior. I say this in Jesus' name amen.

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