We are sons and daughters of God. He is the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9). We are created in the image of God, male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). Because we are the spirit children of God, we have inherited a divine heritage and potential to develop His divine qualities. Through the atonement of Christ we can become like our Heavenly Father, receive a fullness of joy and inherit, as heirs, all that our Heavenly Father has (Romans 8:17).
When our Savior Jesus Christ ministered to the Jews during His mortal ministry, the Jewish scribes and Pharisees often criticized him for receiving sinners and eating with them. On one such occasion He spoke this parable unto them saying…”What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 14:4-7).
Again when the resurrected savior, Jesus Christ, visited the Nephites on the American Continent, He continued His teaching regarding sinners, saying: “ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray from him unto the Father, in my name…for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for you know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them, and ye shall be the means of brining salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:30, 32).
In our day, our beloved prophet and president of the church, Thomas S. Monson, on behalf of our savior, Jesus Christ, has continued this message by inviting each of us to “go to the rescue”, that “we are the Lord’s hands” by which Jesus Christ brings salvation unto God’s children.
There are many that have gone astray that still believe in the gospel but they may be experiencing difficult trials that make them feel uncomfortable attending church. They also tend to have fewer friendships in the church, so they are less likely to feel they are among friends, when they come to ward meetings. Those who return to activity often do so when they see that something is missing in their lives. As a result, they realize that they need to make changes in the way they live. At such times, they need the love and friendship of caring, active church members who accept them as they are and show genuine personal interest in them.
Through the Lord’s inspired programs of home teaching, visiting teaching, organized rescue visits and splits with the ward and full-time missionaries, we can be actively engaged in regularly rescuing the Lord’s lost sheep. We will come to rejoice as the good shepherd did in bringing them back to the fold of ward meetings, strengthening and renewing friendships and participating in all the Lord’s saving ordinance, especially those found in the temple of our God.
May God bless you as you become the means of bringing salvation unto them is my prayer, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.