Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Christian Tent

With the recent release of the movie "Mitt" (available on Netflix), by the man who did "New York Doll" (a truly awesome film and one of my two favorite documentaries), I've been reflecting on the-Mormons-and-the-media-years of 2011-2012.  I suspect that Mormons will be in and out of the media limelight for the rest of forever, but those were two critical and high-profile years.  In retrospect, I am grateful for the way so many non-Mormons stood up for the LDS community and our place as part of the religious fabric of this country.  I was particularly glad to hear people say things publicly that we have been trying for years to get others to hear.  This line from the Economist comes to mind: "Mormons have always professed their faith to be Christian, and there is a consensus, I think, that they believe themselves to be so. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the profession of faith should be enough." 

I love the teachings of Jesus, in particular His undogged efforts to teach His disciples about how wide His tent is.  He went out of His way to reach out to those that God-fearing people intentionally shunned--the Samaritans, the publicans, the adulterous, the leprous.  I love that when the disciples wanted to bring fire down to destroy a town that had not allowed the Savior to stay there, Jesus explained that that was not His style.  "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of," He said. "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:55-56.)  Shortly thereafter (if we assume Luke was written chronologically), Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.  I like to think that, in addition to answering the lawyer's question, He was telling that specific parable also to His disciples, knowing that they too needed to learn again of His ways and His power--that he came to heal and to care for and to include.  I know that Jesus looks upon sin with no degree of allowance, but I also believe that He will run to anyone and everyone who turns to Him.  When we turn to Him and truly repent, He takes our sins from us.  And we don't need His allowance for sin (He does not allow it--He washes it away!) because we have His mercy and His grace. 

As a Mormon, I may not worship and pray the same way that other Christians do (although my non-Mormon friends who've come to church with me have often been surprised at how traditional the services are), and I may not envision God the same way that other Christians do.  But I treasure the words of Christ.  I know that He is the Son of God and my Savior.  Without Him, I would not have anything--not this beautiful world to live in, not the hope of peace in this life or the next, not the ability to repent for what I've done wrong or to be healed from what I and others have done to me.  I believe that, just as He reaches out, welcomes, and heals me, He wants me to reach out, welcome, and heal others, openly and generously.  And I'm trying to (most days).  I believe that is what Christians do.  I am a Christian, and I'm trying to be a good Christian.  And I feel keenly that Christ is helping me serve others in His name.  I am glad there are others who hear my profession of faith--and that of other Mormons--and open their tents to welcome us in.