Easter is nearly upon us. And though we often contemplate Christ’s ministry (his attributes comprise the entire roster of Visiting Teaching messages this year), this is a time when our awareness of his love is heightened. We think deeply about the atonement, and about his incredible life, death, and resurrection.
I’ve lately been pondering something Christ did that I do not often see duplicated. I certainly don’t duplicate it very well. Let me begin by saying I love my friends. I am drawn to certain types of people—as we all are—and “click” with women who are much the same as I am. We laugh together, we share interests, we even have many similar experiences. Isn’t this how we all choose our associates?
But Christ didn’t do that. He didn’t wile away his time just having fun with like-minded people. He sought out the castaways, the poor, the downtrodden. He mingled with outcasts and folks considered despicable by society. He ate with known sinners. While saintly disciples may have followed him and broken bread with him, they weren’t his only companions.
I was once in a Relief Society meeting where the elders presented a missionary discussion and asked us to look in our address books to find the name of a nonmember we could fellowship. One woman admitted she had no nonmember friends—every single person she knew was LDS.
Another time I heard a woman whisper, about another, “She hangs out with such a weird crowd.” Ah. But isn’t that what Jesus of Nazareth did? Who will befriend the mentally ill, the homeless, the shamed, if not us? People who are “more Christian?” Aren’t we as Christian as you can get?
I’ve had little moments when I’ve taken society’s outcasts under my wing. I’ve befriended women with mental illnesses. I’ve hung out with people in completely different age brackets and social spheres. I once collaborated on a screenplay with a woman whose politics couldn’t have been further from my own, yet we became buddies. But then I bounce back to my comfort zone of my peeps, my girlfriends who are just like me.
Seriously, are we only truly comfortable in a house of mirrors? Are we not supposed to seek out all God’s children, help them find their way home, and serve them? Why are we still drawing circles that leave certain people on the outside?
The two big religious holidays for the Christian world are Christmas and Easter, right? But we only give gifts at Christmas, symbolic of the gifts given the Christ Child and the fact the he was, himself, a gift.
Consider this concept: Why don’t we give Easter gifts to Christ? Not physical gifts like the ones we wrap and exchange on Christmas, just quiet pieces of our hearts. What if, every Easter, we gave up a terrible trait we’ve been clinging to? What if we surrender our will and obey one more commandment? What if we commit to paying our tithing, storing food, doing genealogy, forgiving an enemy, and a host of other things we’ve been putting off? What if we double our temple attendance—or prepare to attend for the first time?
There are countless gifts we can give our Savior, and not a single one will come close to equaling the amazing gift he gave to us: Resurrection and Life Eternal. Oh, my. He gave so much and asks so very little in return. I’m ashamed when I think how paltry my offerings are, compared to his.
So maybe this is the time for resolutions—not New Year’s Day. And maybe mine can be to draw my circle a bit wider this year, and reach out to love those I would not naturally assume I would “click” with. Maybe “clicking” doesn’t even matter—it certainly didn’t matter to Christ. Maybe serving and helping is more important than surrounding ourselves with friends who look like us, dress like us, and think like us. All I know is, Christ never did that. And he’s the one who said, “Follow Me.”
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Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.