God loves all His children!
In Acts 10:1-2 we read: “There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”
This scripture reminds me that God hears and answers the sincere prayers of all of His children—not just members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Implicit in this truth are some of the following things.
We Are Christ’s Ministers
Where the Church is organized and priesthood present, we, as members, are the angels God uses to answer prayers—of family and Church members as well as those not yet affiliated with the restored Church of Jesus Christ. We need to be living so we are in tune with the Spirit and respond quickly to each prompting or impression to serve others, especially in our own homes. But not just there, almost all churches have some truth in them. To the degree their members obey that truth and walk in that light, they are entitled to and will receive blessings for obeying those commandments they have been taught.
As members of Christ’s Church, we have all the laws, commandments, and ordinances necessary to become exalted. Having more commandments to follow allows God to give us more blessings as we obey. We also have an obligation to be loving, kind, and caring to all friends, neighbours and strangers. Our friendly attitude and open acceptance of people of all faiths, or no faith at all, is evidence to God and to them, that we are true Christians. We are obeying the second great commandment (Matthew 22:39).
The best way to share the message of the restoration is to live our religion. We do this by being good neighbours: friendly, helpful, sharing and caring. We cannot mow God’s lawn for Him, but when our neighbour is laid up with a sore back, we can come over with our own mower and offer to cut the grass and trim the edges. Or when his wife is in the hospital with a new baby, we can bring a casserole or invite him and his family for dinner. As Jesus directed, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these… ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
Striving to Be like Jesus
We do not perform these acts of service and kindness to get new members. We do them because we know our Savior would, and we are trying to be like Jesus.
To help Peter understand how to reach out to everyone, God sent him a vision wherein he “saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:11-15). After this revelation, Peter realized that the gospel light of truth and love truly was for all sincere seekers, not just God’s “chosen” (Psalms 89:3) or Israelites (see “Israel,” Guide to the Scriptures).
Sometimes, I fear that we may be tempted to see ourselves as “the chosen” and other people as less than us. This is a false and dangerous perspective and should be avoided.
The habit of daily scripture study, both personally and with our children, helped me become a better person. I recognized the whisperings of the Spirit quicker and learned to listen and respond. Doing so helped me build a closer, personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. Each time that I hearkened to a prompting, it made the next one easier to hear and bolstered my courage to act. Usually this was within my own home, helping and serving my wife and our children. But it also helped me be more aware of the needs of those I ministered to, as well as others within my circle of acquaintances. I felt myself becoming happier and, from the response of my wife, more pleasant to be around.
I am grateful for the emphasis on home-centered and Church-supported gospel learning. It is consistent with what we have been doing for years, with great results. I know it is inspired and will help all families “Put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). Being thus prepared, parents and children will be able to be in the world without being of the world. They are less likely to succumb to the widespread distractions and false teachings being embraced and promulgated by so much of the social, print, and broadcast media—movies, TV shows, and music.
Living Up to Our Family Motto
“Teach ‘em how to pray and how to work” has been our family motto for many years.
“Pray” meant: learning the daily habits of scripture study, personal prayer (morning and evening), keeping a daily journal, acts of service and kindness, physical exercise, and associations with friends who support our beliefs and commitments.
“Work” meant: family and household chores that needed to be done to help the family run smoothly and to share the responsibilities. They were age specific and grew in complexity as the children got older. There was an element of choice and consequence for completion and quality.
This motto helped our 13 children become spiritually and temporally self-reliant. It warms our hearts to see them following this same successful pattern in their own homes now. And what greater satisfaction can parents receive than to see their children and grandchildren being spiritually and temporally self-reliant? I know of none.