Monday, August 19, 2013

On Being One

In yesterday’s High Priest group meeting, one of our members led us in a discussion of Chapter 16 in our Lorenzo Snow manual.

Much of our discussion focused on how we could encourage our ward family to be “one” and how we could “one” in our families at home. We talked about ideas like socializing as a ward, going to the temple together, and other activities that would encourage us to spend time together as ward. The implicit suggestion was that if we spend time together, we will know one another better, and therefore we will get along better.

Generally, I think those are great ideas. When our ward boundaries changed during my term of service as bishop, we ended up in a new ward that had half its members from our old ward and half from another ward. My counselors and I worked with the ward council to figure out ways to get members to cross the road (literally and metaphorically) that had been the border between the two wards in order to help people get to know one another in the hopes that once they did, the members’ normal inclinations toward love and service would kick in. (By the way, it worked. I think it took about a year for the transition to be complete.)

As we talked about being one in our families, I had a little bit of a brain sprinkle (not quite enough for a brain storm). I reflected on kids I’d known in my youth whose parents had divorced. Several of these kids had very strong feelings about who was the “good” parent and who was the “bad” one. Those families had a serious lack of unity. I then thought about our political process in the United States; it’s based on an adversarial relationship between parties and relies on that tension to drive us to the best political solutions through debate and compromise. In both of these situations (broken families and our political system), there is a lack of unity. And I think it is because we do not unify ourselves well around a person.

In an adversarial marriage, parents may try to court and win favor of their children to win them to one side or the other in the marriage disputes. Certainly political parties attempt to rally support for their candidate, and sometimes political loyalists may give even grudging support, but there is almost never universal support for a candidate or a position.

When the Savior prayed for unity among His followers, he sought that His disciples would be one as He and His Father are One – unified in gospel purpose, understanding and spirit.

We may mistakenly believe that being unified means we always agree. A unified ward council may still have vigorous discussion, and even disagreement, on the way to a decision. We do not line up behind the bishop simply because he is the bishop. But when the bishop speaks with inspiration, a unified ward council will know it and will stand behind him, because he stands behind the Lord.

Paul’s counsel to the Ephesians about husbands and wives is just as much about a husband’s need to follow the Savior as a wife’s need to follow her husband. The wife is not uniting under her husband, but she and her husband are uniting under Christ.

I suppose the Primary gets it right again. We will be one when we really are Trying to Be Like Jesus.

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