Ray at StayLDS gave a talk in church a few weeks ago on the atonement, and how we all need the atonement in our lives. You can read the outline of his talk here. I think it’s a beautiful talk, but I want to focus on the end of the talk where he says,
End with a request for each member to consider those in their lives whom they naturally see as lepers, Samaritans, publicans and sinners and ask them to live their lives so that it is obvious they believe that those people are every bit as “worthy” of Jesus’ redemption as they are themselves – that they act as God’s hands in both the redeeming and saving of those people – that they create among themselves as a congregation their own “kingdom of nobodies” as a friend once described Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Ask point blank that they each consider what their initial reaction would be if a man staggered into the chapel in the middle of the administration of the sacrament muttering and reeking of alcohol – or if two men walked in holding hands and sat in a pew with their arms around each other – if a young woman entered in a mini skirt, visible tattoos and a nose or eyebrow ring. Would that immediate reaction be, “Ooooh, get out of here. You’re interrupting our worship service” – or would it be, “Thank God you found us!!” Would they recoil or embrace?
Until we can embrace all, especially those who are rejected and seen as irredeemable by others, we can’t say honestly that we are exercising faith in the redemption of Jesus.
So, if one of these Samaritans shows up in your ward this Sunday, what would your reaction be? What would the reaction of most members be?