Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Perfect" Unity

My mother used to be one of Pres. McKay’s secretary’s, and she can tell some fascinating stories of how the First Presdency at the time interacted. My wife and I are close to opposite personalities in many ways - which makes us perfect for each other as we try to become whole and complete as one. I also have commented actively on various group blogs in the Bloggernacle (the umbrella term for Mormon-themed blogs) and been intrigued by the group dynamics that keep such groups generally more civil than most other sites I've visited.

I view unity based on these experiences, but also based on the Sermon on the Mount - where “perfect” is defined as “complete” or “whole” - not as mistake free. In all seriousness, I believe there is an inherent conflict in the way that too many members view unity as an ideal. I prefer to think of it in terms that I think are taught in the Gospels and that formed the foundation of Joseph Smith’s efforts - by talking of communal unity [“community”] (a societal completeness and wholeness of unique but united individuals) as opposed to the “sameness” of most worldly definitions.

7 comments:

RoAnn said...

This post really resonates with me.

I think you are correct in thinking that in the Church we sometimes mistake "sameness" for "unity." God doesn't want us to become carbon copies of each other, or even of Him. He wants us to use our agency in ways that will enable us to become like Him in character.

We may not be able to reach the level of the city of Enoch before the Millenium, but I think we can work a lot harder at building "a societal completeness" in our families, and in our wards and stakes.

We can try to be less judgemental of those around us, and more focused on removing the beams in our own eyes. We can look for the good in others, and celebrate the variety of experience and talent we encounter in our ward or branch. We can overlook petty differences and forgive more serious ones. We can love and support each other even in our weaknesses as we seek to serve God and one another.

As we work on those things, with desire, effort and faith in the Lord and His Atonement, I think we can make great strides towards becoming a community of "unique but united" saints--and find a lot of joy in the journey towards the ultimate "'perfect' unity."

adam said...

Well said. I haven't thought of it that way, but it made me think that often the quest (or insistence) for "sameness" results in dis-unity. I think this is difficult for many because they think if you don't agree than you are not unified. I bet many of us would be surprised if we saw how much the brethren disagree, while at the same time be blown away by how unified they are. Pres. Eyring said as much in the press conference after he was called to the first presidency.

I'm Cute said...

This post encompasses or points towards so much of the center of a Zion community--not the least of which is Paul's notion that a complete body requires not just Christ as its head, but members (ah, the pun!) which perform equally important yet diverse roles.

Elder Nelsen's "Perfection Pending" provides one of the best treatments of the perfection question I've seen. He makes clear that the "perfection" required by Jesus isn't the 100% visiting teaching/never had an impure thought in my life sort we discuss so much in SS, even if we should strive for those sorts of goals. We can easily apply his notion or perfectionas a process and a mindset to community just as we can to individuals.

Excellent post, Ray. Thanks!

fmhjanet (whose computer refuses to use an appellation other than the one assigned to her kid for blogger accounts.)

Papa D said...

Adam, I agree that "sameness" is an insidious concept. If you really think about it, Lucifer's plan was a lot about sameness.

Janet, I figured it had to be you when I saw, "i'm cute." *grin* I love the Body of Christ comparison. Thanks!

Christy said...

"Bloggernacle" - love that term!

Jami said...

My husband and I are nearly opposites in personality. Trying to be the same was an exercise in futility and frustration. We finally discovered that when we both try to be more like God we become unified while retaining our uniqueness. We don't need to be like each other (as individuals or as communities) we need to be like our Father.

Patty said...

I think we are meant to be united in thought and intention (to build the Kingdom of God and love and serve one another) NOT be united in looks, personality or even in the way we go about doing good works. I'm in complete agreement with you on this one. Thanks for sharing it!