Even as He is

No matter where we live, we will find among us those who are not exactly like us.

That, quite honestly, is a marvelous thing.

All, of course, are — in absolutely every way — Heavenly Father's children. And that, of course, means we are all — quite literally — brothers and sisters.

In fact, we shouldn't have even used the phrase "aren't exactly like us." That, in and of itself, is exclusionary.

We have no call, no reason, no excuse for being exclusionary.

That we hold dear, and strictly adhere to, standards, covenants and doctrines is absolutely true. And we must never attempt to alter or step back from those standards.

But, quite similarly, we must never believe that those standards somehow make us superior to others.

While we are in no way better or superior, we clearly have had the good fortune — and merciful blessing — to have already been exposed to the saving principles of the gospel — and the influence of the Spirit — and have therefore embraced the covenants and doctrines of the kingdom.

That brings not only great and marvelous blessings, but sacred opportunities and obligations — especially with those who might not be "exactly like us."

By virtue of our embracing the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel, we have become heirs to the Abrahamic covenant. But being a chosen people does not mean we are necessarily better, more holy or more righteous.

In fact, "being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a 'chosen person' per se, but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all peoples of the earth" (Bible Dictionary, page 602).

As a practical matter, that implies that we should love all mankind, that we should let others know of our love and that we should show our love by, among other ways, just being good and kind neighbors.

Speaking of the gathering of Israel, Elder Russell M. Nelson, said "We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it." (October 2006 general conference).

And, speaking of "the poor and the weary, the discouraged and downhearted, those falling away into the forbidden paths, (and those) out there with feeble knees (and) hands that hang down," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

"They can be rescued only by those who have more and know more and can help more. And don't worry about asking 'Where are they?' They are everywhere, on our right hand and on our left, in our neighborhood and in the workplace, in every community and county and nation of this world. Take your team and wagon; load it with your love, your testimony and a spiritual sack of flour; then drive in any direction. The Lord will lead you to those in need if you will but embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ" (October 2006 general conference).

Quite literally, by virtue of those covenants that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have already made, we have an obligation to love all people and invite them to come unto Christ.

Moreover, as disciples of the Master — striving to become even as he is — we should sincerely want to love all mankind.

As we ponder the remarkable blessings the Lord has poured into our lives — and the promised blessings yet to come — our hearts become full of even greater gratitude and love for the Father and his Only Begotten Son.

That joy and gratitude lead us to a deeply inward desire to humbly and sincerely share with others the love we feel for and from our Savior. Feeling the Savior's love, in turn, fills our hearts with love for all people everywhere. Thus, not because of some external obligation, but because of deep and sincere love, we will reach out to help and bless others.

That is how we gather Israel. That is how we fulfill the covenant into which we have already entered. That is how we bless all of Father's children — and become even as the Savior is.