With 195 countries across 7 continents, over 7,000 different languages, and a population of 7.9 billion, we live in a wonderfully rich and diverse world. There are countless numbers of traditions and cultures at every level, across each nation and even down to each individual family. It truly is a wonder. We are rich in diversity, and it’s wonderful!
Social norms are becoming increasingly separated from the baseline fundamental principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, known and understood through its restoration in these the latter days. But despite this, there is always a constant, a persistent, unwavering truth, whether it is understood or recognised to be such, it will never change. That is; that every man, women and child who has, does and will live on this glorious and diverse earth, is a child of God, our Heavenly Father. That we are here on this earth to experience mortality for a divine purpose, for“God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) and we are to become like God himself “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” (Psalm 82:6).
The Family Proclamation also declares: “ALL human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” How privileged a position it is to be in to know and understand this core truth. I am grateful for it. I do not take it for granted. As a young boy, due to experiences in life at the time, I had questions about the nature of God, who was he, what did he look like. I visited local churches and I would ask ministers these questions. I would ask questions related to the purpose of life, and why we were here if we were to suffer pain and sorrow. I could not receive a satisfactory answer that felt right.
There is another divine and consistent truth, that Christ, our brother, and Saviour, atoned for the transgressions of all mankind, for every individual, regardless of their country of origin, race or creed. Resurrection and immortality is a gift to all of God’s children unconditionally. However there is a price to pay to leverage the divine power of the atonement, for true repentance and to be freed from the burden of sin. The Saviour himself explained this at his arrival amongst the Americas; 'And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 9:19-20). Continuing his address Alma confirms “Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:34). And mercifully we know from Jacob’s teachings considering those who do not have the opportunity to be taught, understand, and have a testimony of Christ; “For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered … and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:26).
Oh how beautiful this gift is, for all of mankind! I am grateful for it, for I regularly experience the joy of one forgiven of sin, and equally the joy of one who has been healed.
I will leave with a reminder of the invitation given to each of us from the Saviour himself, 28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)