What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Inclusiveness?

Nephi taught that God invites all people “to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him” (2 Nephi 26:33).

When the Savior visited the American continent, He demonstrated this inclusiveness by His actions. Immediately after descending from heaven and announcing who He was, He said:

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world (3 Nephi 11:14).

In response, the people approached Him one by one, touching His wounds and bearing testimony that He was the promised Messiah. Every one of them did this: none was excluded or neglected.

Later that day, the Savior introduced the sacrament, which would function as a symbol of what they had done that day: touching His body, feeling His wounds, remembering what He had done for them. “this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you” (3 Nephi 18:7). He told them that they should meet regularly, and that they should demonstrate the same inclusiveness toward other people that He had demonstrated toward them:

Ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.
Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.
And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation (3 Nephi 18:22-25).

What about people who are unworthy to participate in the sacrament? They should not eat and drink the symbols of His body and blood until  they have repented of their sins. Nevertheless, “ye shall not cast [them] out from among you, but ye shall minister unto [them] and shall pray for [them]” (3 Nephi 18:30). After they repent, they may participate fully.

But what about people who refuse to repent? They may, by their behavior and attitude, deny themselves of membership in the Savior’s church:

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast [them] 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 18:32).

The Savior’s focus is on providing opportunities for people to come to Him and receive the blessings of salvation He can offer. He wants His disciples to do the same. Never send people away. Never give up on them. Always invite, welcome, and support others, even those who may be difficult to love.

In this month’s Ensign magazine, there is a list of things we can do to create a culture of inclusion within the Church. Here are a few of those suggestions:

  • Don’t always sit by the same people in church.

  • Include others in conversations.

  • Invite others to be part of your life. You can include them in activities you are already planning.

  • Find and build on common interests.

  • Don’t withhold friendship just because someone doesn’t meet your expectations.

  • When you see something unique about a person, be interested in that instead of glossing over it or avoiding it (“How Can We Create a Culture of Inclusion at Church?” Ensign, July 2019).

Tomorrow, as I participate in church meetings, I will strive to contribute to a culture of inclusion. I will remember that the Savior invited all to come unto Him and that He wants me to do the same. I will pay particular attention to people who may feel marginalized or neglected and ensure that I am contributing to them feeling welcomed and accepted.

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