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By Their Fruits…

By Julia Blue

“We believe the bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” Article of Faith 8

“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Article of Faith 13

As members of the church, I think we sometimes believe this in theory, but, at least when it comes to religion, we avoid the seeking part, unless it’s through “official” LDS channels.

Which is unfortunate. Because the fact is, we do not have the market cornered on truth. Nor is our culture a perfect fit for everyone. Sometimes you can hear the same message from two different people, and one of them will really reach you, while the other barely catches your notice.

It’s also unfortunate because as members, in conjunction with our traditional study methods, we have the Holy Ghost available to help guide us. He will let us know the truth of all things, so we don’t actually need to worry about being led astray if we seek with our hearts attuned to the spirit. When ideas don’t resonate; if they have a hollow sound and do not ring true, we will know they are of little value, and ultimately our learning will be directed toward truth, as described in D&C 93.

It’s with this in mind that I share thoughts about one area today.

A few weeks ago I was in Georgia visiting friends. They are Christians, and I had the opportunity to attend their church services while there.

It was my first time ever going to a “mega church”. And by mega, I mean many thousands of people. Between the seven different locations in the area, they have over 25,000 attendees each week. It’s a seriously fine-tuned operation.

It was a vastly different experience culturally, and I’m grateful for the renewed exposure it gave me into how many of our friends and neighbors experience religion and worship. It increased my appreciation for their goodness and faithfulness.  A reminder of just how many truly good, humble, earnest people there are.

Services started with an (optional) live concert. Professional musicians performed while the whole thing was projected onto three huge screens. The audience was on it’s feet singing along when we arrived.

After the music, an excellent sermon was projected via satellite onto the huge screens. The pastor was quite engaging; his message was based on verses in 1 Corinthians. Every word he said rang true with my beliefs. It was part of a series of talks on the topic, and I thought it would be interesting to hear the others, so when I got home I went looking for them online.  While searching, I found several excellent series that I’ve enjoyed listening to, as have my kids.

It is because I know everyone wrestles at some point with relationship issues that I share the following. For some time now I’ve been studying, fasting and praying for direction and answers. I knew I needed divine guidance about our situation, but it never occurred to me that perhaps the truths I sought would be presented by a Christian pastor on the internet. Yet perhaps this four-part series I stumbled upon, Staying In Love, is the missing link not only for us, but also some of you, fair readers.

Even though he no longer believes in any religion, my husband and I have watched all four parts together (they’re about 40 minutes each). Not only did we both enjoy them, they’ve inspired some very good discussions.  Every word of these talks rang true to me, and I’ve gained insights I haven’t had before about the Savior and relationships.  I don’t know what will happen with us, but either way I am grateful for the insights I gained.

Whether you are single or married, happy as clams or barely hanging on, I can’t imagine any couple not benefitting from these messages. And remember, you don’t have to worry about being misled. Just apply 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Our lives can only be richer as we incorporate truth from any source into them.

Have you ever found truth in unexpected places?  Does the thought of attending another church make you uncomfortable? How could being more open to learning about other faiths or belief traditions build bridges and foster community with others? I know style matters, and these may not be to your liking, but if you’ve watched the talks I’ve linked to, what do you think? Did you feel the spirit while listening?

About Julia Blue

(Blog Team) married to a hunky Aussie cowboy carpenter farmer composer filmmaker, who has turned her world upside down (this is a good thing). For even more fun, she flies around the world serving snacks and drinks, checking that seat belts are fastened, occasionally providing medical attention and hoping to never be a firefighter.

11 thoughts on “By Their Fruits…”

  1. I am a firm believer in finding truth wherever it may be. In fact, I just taught a RS lesson on Sunday and quoted from a Taoist philosopher and an Islamic sect called the Sufis.

    Ironically enough, quoting from our Apostle didn't have nearly the same affect as the other words of wisdom I shared. Truth is found everywhere, and I am grateful that our church teaches that.

  2. I'd have missed a lot if I hadn't looked to non-LDS sources for so many things. One thing that has helped me is creating my own liturgical calendar that is largely based on the calendars of other Christian sects and other faiths. I'm always looking for truth in other places and people because they strengthen my faith.

    While I haven't yet had a chance to watch the videos you posted, there have been so many times where I've felt the spirit in non-LDS settings. There is so much out there that is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy.

  3. I observed Lent last year for the first time and was surprised at how deeply it affected me; I plan on making a habit of it. It's so easy to get locked into the way we've always done stuff, and it takes a concerted effort to stretch a bit outside of an established comfort zone and go seeking, but I consider it an important part of being "anxiously engaged" and continuously progressing rather than being passive and static.

  4. Since I've lived in so many places far outside of the Mormon corridor in the U.S. and have met so many religious people of other traditions, including many non-Christians, I have been exposed to a lot of truth (as well a lot of untruth). I am frequently struck by the threads of truth that I observe in different religions, particularly Islam.

    I think we have a duty to thoughtfully engage and listen to our friends and neighbors as they share their religious views.

    When I was in high school, I often invited friends to church activities. But I was also interested in attending their activities. I attended a Christian retreat with a friend and several of the kids mentioned how nice it was that I came. They just weren't used to LDS youth attending other activities.

    I'm inspired by the examples of my faithful Christian friends who share their desires to live by the word of God in every part of their lives. Frequently they do a far better job of actively and vocally living their beliefs than I think I do.

  5. When I traveled to Morocco, I was humbled by the muezzin's call from the minaret five times each day and took the opportunity to offer a silent prayer myself. I sometimes wish we had a reminder like that – it was so beautiful to see the society pause and remember our Heavenly Father so often in daily life.

  6. I believe that God is trying to reach each of his children in every venue possible. Therefore it behooves us to listen with an open heart for what others have learned from him in each of those venues and add it to our understanding of truth. Christ taught that when truth is spoken, period, the Holy Ghost testifies of it. Therefore it stands to reason you'll hear that testifying if you are listening for it, no matter what the venue.

    I'm sure you are familiar with Brigham Young's oration found in "The Discourses of Brigham Young", p. 248 and in the recent RS manual based on Pres. Young's speeches.

    "It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, to mechanism of every kind, to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion." (Journal of Discourses 7:283)

    If we never listen with an open heart to others' understandings and listen to the Holy Spirit testify of truths found in the works, writing and/or worship of followers of other religious or philosophical belief systems how can we possibly do what B. Y. said in the above discourse is our duty and calling to do?

    I look forward to listening to the series you linked to.

  7. You quoted my very favorite Article of Faith. There is so much good out there and all around us, and we have a duty to seek it out and bring it into our lives.

    Thank you for the link. I will check it out.

  8. Ok,first off…so thrilled to get up this morning and read words from one of my favorite thinkers/writers! Second, I absolutely agree. I have always loved the quote from "Reflections of a Scientist" (by Pres. Eyring's father) that says, "Learn everything you can, and whatever is true is part of the gospel."

  9. Thanks for this post! It reminds me of Gordon B. Hinckley's quote about truth in reference to other religions when interviewed by Larry King (I think?): "We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches. We say to people: you bring all the good that you have, and let us see if we can add to it."

  10. You are great, Blue. Thanks for this post. I too love Protestants (and Catholics and Jews and Muslims and anyone who is seeking a charitable life). I've subscribed to Today's Christian Woman for several years and even though they quite pointedly informed me they don't accept submissions from Mormons, I love their messages of kindness and Christian living. One theme in the magazine that has always struck me is they acknowledge the fact marriage is hard. We talk so much about the glory of marriage and sometimes neglect the struggles. No one has a good marriage without hard work.


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