When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said to love God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. The second was to love our neighbor as ourself. Everything else…
EVERYTHING ELSE…he said,
Rests upon this.
Everything. This means there is no other gospel principle more important than loving God and loving our neighbor as ourself. Jesus said that upon this commandment to love hang “all the law and the prophets.”
Who are we to judge how someone worships God?
Who are we to judge how someone follows any other law or commandment?
Who are we to judge what someone believes?
Interesting to note that our 11th Article of Faith states;
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
Several years ago a religion teacher pointed out to me that this applies within the church as much as it does to other religions. We believe in allowing one another the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of our own conscience. This means if one person has sought personal revelation on how to approach his or her life and it is different than another person’s personal revelation, we allow one another this privilege. We don’t judge. Instead we love. And it is hard to love if we choose to judge how we think someone else should be living their faith and what their beliefs should be.
Jesus further clarifies his commandment to “judge not that ye be not judged” in John 7 when he invites us to judge righteously.
Notice that it doesn’t say judge self righteously.
He invites us to judge righteously. There is a big difference.
What is righteous judgement? I would offer that righteous judgement allows you to BE in a reality where you can still love another person regardless of what they believe or do. If judgement is putting a meaning or story on something, this means we tell a story that will support us in having love for another person.
Maybe that story is
“I know they are doing the best they can.”
“I know they are doing what they feel is best for them.”
or my all time favorite mantra, “I love and accept you.”
One of the great challenges of our day is that amidst the chaos of the world, we have been commanded to build Zion. Zion is the pure in heart. It is a people of one heart and one mind.
Being of one heart and mind does not mean we all think and believe the same. In fact, Joseph Smith stated “by union of feeling we obtain power from God.”
God loves variety and diversity. He created countless varieties of trees, plants, flowers, insects, animals, and people. There’s always variety. We were all made by him to have different points of view and have variety in our thoughts.
Sameness has never been the goal. Oneness has.
Can we have a union of feeling? Can we be unified feeling love for one another? If it feels like an uphill battle to try to force everyone to think the same, perhaps we could make everything more efficient and choose to just love instead? It is possible to think and believe different and still love each other. This is the unity God asks of us. A union of feeling. Once we understand this, everything becomes easier. We don’t have to change people, we just have to love them.
To be one is only possible if we can learn to stay in the space of non judgement or to judge righteously. To judge righteously, we choose a story that allows us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourself. This is the only way to build Zion. This is the reality that we aim to build and it has everything to do with how we judge.