Thursday, October 21, 2004

Unity: If ye are not one, ye are not mine

I noticed a remark on an LDS blog that expressed dismay over the fact that the great majority of Latter-day Saints tend to cluster in the same political party. I thought about that. It seems to me that if we all believe the same thing, why would it be a surprise if most of us came to the same conclusion about political affiliation? I then went in search of what the Prophets and other church leaders have said about it.

Here are some tidbits:

Unity in a ward is not just a desirable state; it is a commandment of God and is one of the observable fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, "If ye are not one ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27). Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1915–1985) stated: "Unity within the Church and among the saints is the goal of the gospel. There is no place in the Church for division, for disagreement on doctrine, for cults and cliques. … Among the faithful saints there is only one mind and one judgment and these are the Lord’s." From H. Aldridge Gillespie, "Be Ye One," Ensign, June 2004

I should like to talk about the building of Zion through sacrifice and consecration. For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace—a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one. "Behold, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland: For they do not forsake their sins, and their wicked ways, the pride of their hearts, and their covetousness, and all their detestable things, and observe the words of wisdom and eternal life which I have given unto them." (D&C 98:19-20.) It is incumbent upon us to put away selfishness in our families, our business and professional pursuits, and our Church affairs. Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions. After pleading with the Saints to "let every man esteem his brother as himself" (D&C 38:24), the Lord concludes his instructions on cooperation to a conference of the membership in these powerful words: "Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine." (D&C 38:27.) Let us unite and pray with all the energy of heart, that we may be sealed by this bond of charity; that we may build up this latter-day Zion, that the kingdom of God may go forth, so that the kingdom of heaven may come. From Spencer W. Kimball, "Becoming the Pure in Heart," Ensign, Mar. 1985

In order to knit our hearts in Christ’s perfect unity and love, it stands to reason that we must, in essence, "break" our old and perhaps imperfect hearts first. We must become humble. The scriptures repeatedly affirm that humility is the prerequisite for faith, hope, and then for charity. In addition to repentance, humility helps perfect and purify our unity and love and thus helps make us one with Christ. Without humility, our fondness for and loyalty to each other could, in many circumstances, lead us away from the influence of the Spirit. Without humility, our unity could become restrictive and haughty, perhaps even directing us up the steps of a latter-day Rameumptom instead of into the footsteps of the Master. One of Satan’s counterfeits for hearts being knit together in unity and love is proud hearts seeking other proud hearts in order to fulfill selfish desires. From Sandra Rogers, “Knitting a Worldwide Church Together,” Ensign, Sept. 1998

There are some commandments which, when broken, destroy unity. Some have to do with what we say and some with how we react to what others say. We must speak no ill of anyone. We must see the good in each other and speak well of each other whenever we can (see David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 4-11). At the same time, we must stand against those who speak contemptuously of sacred things, because the certain effect of that offense is to offend the Spirit and so create contention and confusion. President Spencer W. Kimball showed the way to stand without being contentious as he lay on a hospital gurney and asked an attendant who, in a moment of frustration, took the name of the Lord in vain: "'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.' There was a deathly silence, then a subdued voice whispered: 'I am sorry'"(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 198). An inspired, loving rebuke can be an invitation to unity. Failure to give it when moved upon by the Holy Ghost will lead to discord. From Henry B. Eyring, “That We May Be One,” Ensign, May 1998

I know of no stronger weapons in the hands of the adversary against any group of men or women in this church than the weapons of divisiveness, faultfinding, and antagonism. In a difficult period of the Church’s history, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of the opposition which can hinder the Church when we are not filled with the spirit of support and helpfulness. From Howard W. Hunter, "That We May Be One," Ensign, May 1976

The question of whether there is a unifying force powerful enough to overcome the divisive elements of diversity is answered with a resounding yes! Inspired and energetic leaders are required. Where there is vision, the people respond. The doctrine is in place. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Church, and all who join are "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Eph. 2:19.) The prophet of God gives us a single authoritative voice on matters of doctrine and practice. Priesthood authority granted to men gives them the right to baptize, bestow the Holy Ghost, and bless our congregations with unity without robbing us of our diversity. Authoritative scriptures contain the word of God to guide us. Basic gospel ordinances, weekly sacrament meetings, temple blessings, and a universal priesthood and Relief Society are available. The gospel is centered in homes, and the work of spreading the gospel through missionary service and temple service for our deceased ancestors keeps all members involved, providing a dynamic, action-filled life for the Saints. Undergirding everything, the Holy Ghost unifies all who live worthily to receive and magnify its gifts. From John K. Carmack, "Unity in Diversity," Ensign, Mar. 1991
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