I love this quote from Joseph Smith on how mankind will be judged. The truths expressed are so clear and plain, you cannot help but stand in awe at the incredible balance of justice and mercy God extends to each of us.
“But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, “according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,” or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, “not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,” those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 218)
Joseph’s doctrine suggests that God isn’t just involved in the lives of “his people” but that everyone, no matter what religion or culture, is experiencing a life that is purposeful and accountable. While it is true that having access to the blessings of the restoration is something to be grateful for, it should not cultivate an attitude of elitism in anyone’s heart.
Rather, we should each be grateful for what we have as well as what others have as well. It isn’t that we have all the truth and everyone else is wrong. We have all been given portions of truth to serve specific purposes on this earth and it is only gathering all things into one that each of us can truly be blessed in a manner that is universally beneficial.
Brigham Young once taught:
It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion (DBY,248).
Perhaps instead of saying to our neighbors, “Hey, I have some missionaries you need to listen to,” we could begin the conversation by asking, “Will you share with me what you believe?” and go from there. I’ve been blessed many times in my life by inviting others from various religious traditions to express to me some of their most sacred beliefs. When there is truth being expressed, the Spirit will attend, no matter who is speaking.
We cannot gather up all the truths in the world, if we don’t take the time to listen to others. You just might find that inviting others to share first, builds fertile ground for an even exchange of cherished beliefs.