Discussing Spiritual Differences- 2 Nephi 2:8, 2 Nephi 2:27

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

COMMENTARY

Wherefore, men are free; and all things are given them which are expedient. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, or to choose captivity and death
Many of us spend a good portion of our lives avoiding any serious considering of what sort of person we’re going to be. As a child I would have phrased it as simply deciding whether to be the “good guy” or the “bad guy.” Today I might describe it as deciding whether to “meet my divine potential” or to “give in to my baser nature.”
Instead of facing this question we tell ourselves “yeah, I’m a pretty good person,” and then never commit to a life of greater purpose. But that is not taking ownership of our souls and we will remain stunted for so long as we won’t face the decision in sincerity. At some point we need to have a deeper, more sincere examination of who we really are now, and who we really want to be moving forward.
And it is not healthy for us to put off this decision. Making this determination must come before our great story can really take off. To just make this choice is the very reason why God put us on this Earth to begin with. Here, left to our own heart and reason, we are meant to decide who we ultimately want to be, and whether we will work to become that person. It is the single, most important decision we can ever make, and we each owe it to ourselves to face it.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth
When we do make the choice, though, and when our choice is to truly meet our divine potential, then we realize how important it is for everyone else to do the same. We look around and see people trundling along only half-alive and we want to wake them fully. This is why those that have been “born again” feel such a fire to proselyte to others, to show them the depth and breadth and beauty that is possible in life after one has fully chosen who they are going to be.
Indeed, it is more than a desire to proselyte, it becomes an obligation. One cannot be good to his fellow-man and still leave him to walk around half-dead. Not when one knows that there is a life that is so much better. Though it may be a difficult and touchy subject, though there is a great chance of being misunderstood, though the bold words may cause offense, though one’s very life may be threatened for proselyting, still one must speak forth.

Influence and Persuasion- Personal Example #3

When I was nineteen I served a mission for my church, proselyting the gospel in the Caribbean. There was a great diversity of religious opinion where I served. Hinduism was most prevalent, but Christianity and Islam were not far behind. A healthy dose of Rastafari as well, and numerous smaller theologies sprinkled on top, to say nothing of the many different sects within each larger religion-umbrella.

Because of the nature of my work there, I entered into many theological discussions with members of other churches, some of them positive and some of them not. I met more than one person who was angry at me for “being wrong,” and who would seek very aggressively to convince me of that wrongness.

And while those experiences left a strong distaste in my mouth, I have actually come to agree with some of the points they made, but many years after and not because of their hostile approach. For example, only recently I came to the realization that I misunderstood grace. I said I believed in it, but I was still trying to win my own salvation. This was something that others were able to see amiss in me, but their antagonistic methods only delayed my willingness to see the truth of the matter. I wasn’t convinced until much later, when I met others who genuinely cared for me, and as a friend helped me to see more clearly.

I’m glad to say that I also had very positive experiences with members of different faiths on my mission. In particular I remember a long conversation with a Hindu Pujari (temple priest) in his home, where he patiently explained all the concepts of their religion that I had questions about. He helped me to see the misunderstanding I had on concepts like reincarnation, nirvana, and karma.

Now I did not convert to Hinduism, but I did open myself to seeing the very real good that this religion and culture has to offer the world. For example, the emphasis that it gives to connecting with one’s physical self and caring for it; this is something that many of us Christians have a lot to learn about. I have even added the practice of yoga into my life because of the good I have seen it bring me.

Indeed, whenever I meet a soul that is intent upon being a friend, and not merely a corrector, I have found something to learn from them. No matter their religion, philosophy, or personal beliefs, no matter how many other things they think that I disagree with, there is always still something for a friend to teach.