Saturday, July 2, 2016

3 Nephi 18:31-32 -- On Numbers and Sheep and Sneetches

"But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.
Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them."
3 Nephi 18:31-32

Two things came to mind while I was reading through this today.  One was the Serta counting sheep with the little numbers on their sides. :)  The idea that God knows us, and that we are numbered is comforting to me, although I suppose it could be off-putting, if we are thinking about government forms or something. God doesn't de-personalize like that though.  He numbers us because he keeps track of us, and wants to make sure we're all there, like on a field trip when they start counting heads. :)  And if the numbers come out wrong, then he searches to find out who is lost, and then comes to find us.  It's not about the statistics.  It's about helping us learn and keeping everyone safe.

The second thing I thought of were Sneetches, from the Doctor Seuss story.  As God's sheep, we are numbered, and in a way that makes us pretty cool, and chosen, and amazing.  But in another way, we can't start kicking people out of our club because they did something crazy.  We have no idea who else is supposed to be in the club, and who isn't, just like those mixed-up Sneetches at the end of their story. And the truth is, with the gospel, we get to choose.  Are we numbered in God's fold or not?  We can choose to walk away, but even if we do, God and our friends aren't going to write us off, because they are going to try to find us and bring us home, and make sure we have a number. :)

No matter what we have done, whether we start out in a different religion or what color skin we have, or what language we speak, or so many things that make us scared of each other or critical of each other.  Those things don't matter.  What matters is that we are children of God.  All of us.  And we need to give each other space to live and make decisions about whether we want to be in the fold of God or not.  When we start deciding who else is in and who is out, labeling these people as the bad guys and these people as the good guys, then we're making judgments that we have no knowledge or authority to make.  We're not the shepherd.  We have no idea who God has numbered as part of his fold.  All we know is that we should be in it. :)  God gives us space to make choices and to repent.  Let's do the same for others, and help God find his other lost sheep.

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