The Gospel Doctrine Lesson #39 manual objective is “To help class members understand that the process of ‘perfecting … the saints’ (Ephesians 4:12) requires us to increase our faith in Christ, follow the teachings of the apostles and prophets, and protect ourselves from the wickedness of the world.”
To examine what it means to have no strangers in the household of God.
I have always loved Ephesians 2:19, which says:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
This verse felt especially important as I went to church after I moved to India. I was sitting in church the first week and I was so grateful to be there. I live 400 miles from church and so I am only able to go once a month. To get there and hear hymns coming from the open door just gave my soul peace.
I had been to many LDS churches around the world as I traveled. It was always an adventure trying to find the building. But this time I had MOVED… this was to be my home… and it just didn’t feel like it. I looked around and thought, “These are my people?” Well, yes and no.
No, I am not Indian. No, I do not live in Delhi. No, I have very different life experiences than everyone in there. And then I remembered this verse: no more strangers and foreigners. And a quote by Gandalf I have always loved, “I am a stranger no where unless I choose to be.”
And so, YES, these are my people. These are fellow saints. And, more importantly, children of God just like me.
One of my most profound experiences with this concept was actually in my very own hometown. I was living at my parents’ house recuperating from having a baby while they were on their mission. It was the first few weeks after giving birth and not only was I not sleeping enough (like everyone says), I had also woken up sick. I literally thought, “How am I going to do this?” But, a sister from my ward whom I had grown up with but not spent any significant time with in twenty years showed up on my doorstep. She held my baby for two hours so I could sleep, she did my dishes, she brought a bag of helpful items for a newborn. She saved me… a relative stranger.
Were we anything alike? Not on the surface. She had eight children and had started young. I had one and started at forty-one. She lived in our hometown; I lived abroad. She had dozens of relatives in the area; I had none. I had worked outside of the home; she had mostly worked inside. (Though raising eight kids takes a fair amount of work both inside and outside a home!)
And, still, we sat on the couch and caught up. We made each other laugh and kept saying, “exactly! exactly!” as the other relayed a life perspective. We were not strangers, but just two members of God’s household.
May we each find a way to welcome another soul.. whether in our congregation or our neighborhood, let’s find a way to help everyone remember we are all part of God’s family.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
A Champion for Diversity, Sui Lang Panoke
Initially, I found it rather ironic actually that I would be called to serve in the RS, because growing up in Utah, I used to actually make fun of the RS ladies–wearing their Christmas sweaters, always knitting something, swapping Jell-O salad and funeral potatoes recipes. I never really felt like I fit into that mold. But, over the years I have grown to love the women in RS as I admire the manner in which they raise their children, foster sincere and loyal friendships with each other and their husbands, adhere to the needs of our communities, pursue successful careers outside of the home, and even serve in our armed forces.
Cherish One Another, Cathy Stokes
Lucy Mack Smith said it all: “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.” That is where we need to focus. Never mind who’s working outside of the home and who’s staying—whatever choices we make, we must cherish one another. We need to support each other in our choices as much as we righteously can.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Sisterhood: Oh How We Need Each Other, Bonnie Oscarson
To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. The Lord has said, ‘I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine’ (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).
Here to Serve a Righteous Cause, Carol F. McConkie
We all experience times and seasons in our lives. But whether we are at school, at work, in the community, and especially in the home, we are the Lord’s agents and we are on His errand.