One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is found in John chapter 4. Jesus has left Judea to go to Galilee. On his way he stops in the city of Samaria.
Jesus stops at Jacob's well and there meets a woman of Samaria who has come to the well to draw water.
The dialogue between Jesus Christ and the woman commences and they discuss water....
There are many lessons taught through this story. One is of acceptance.
The Jews in that day did not deal with the Samaritans and usually avoided Samaria when traveling. Yet Jesus deliberately went through Samaria. In our lives today there are those we try to avoid by going a different way and yet we should be more like Jesus and deliberately put ourselves in their path. Who are these people that we sometimes avoid? Is it a person or people who we consider to be inferior? Are these people who have sinned? Are these people we don't know well and we just don't take the time to get to know them better?
Whatever the case may be, we should strive to be more like Jesus. Jesus taught the woman and did so at her level of understanding; he showed her compassion and he forgave her of her weeknesses. He showed her that there was a better way.
I often reflect on the friendships Victor and I have made with various members of the church and those that we work with. Because I was raised in the church some of those friendships were difficult to forge. It is easy to be friends with those who are just like you. More common ground.
It took eyes of understanding and patience to learn to accept others as they were and to remember that they too are children of Heavenly Father.
When Victor and I were in the Ventura Stake; during the time that Victor was investigating the church; there was another family participating in the discussions. Their past lives; rough exterior and loud personalities were offensive to my quiet reserved nature. Victor and John became fast friends and we started going out on double dates with them. I felt uncomfortable many times because our personalities were so different.
John and Merry Beth were baptized several months before Victor was baptized and I began to see some changes with them. I noticed that what I perceived as loud and offensive soon became fun and enjoyable. After Victor was baptized both couples began working towards attending the temple. John and Merry Beth were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple about six months before Victor and I were sealed in the St George Temple.
While John and Merry Beth lived in California we attended the temple with them once a month and we became strong friends.
It has been many years since they left California (now living in Utah) and I still remember the blessings of having such good friends; so close, who, over time shared the same values and had a love of the Savior as I did.
We do not know the price we pay when we do not follow the example of the Savior in accepting and loving those we come in contact with. We do not know how our lives will change and be better because we took the time to share the gospel and the blessings of the gospel with others.
My life is better. I am a better person for having learned the valuable lesson of accepting others and for loving them. The most valuable asset of the church is it's members and each has the right to be treated with respect; love and kindness. We all need to show forth kindness; acceptance; love and friendship to those we have stewardship over.
Remember to do your visiting teaching or your home teaching. Prayerfully prepare your lessons. Smile and extend a hand to those who are new in the ward or to the gospel. Be a friend.