Thursday, March 19, 2015

"The Church" Is Different Things to Different People - and to the Same Person at Different Times

I think it's important to determine (at any given time) what "The Church" is to each of us - but also be open to the idea that "The Church" actually is different and often competing (or even opposite) things for different people - or for us at different times. "The Church" really is an amoeba in many ways.

For example:

"The Church" is global - but, in a very real way, "The Church" is local even more so than global for many people. Some people leave "The Church" due to things that happen at the local level much more than over things that are taught at the global level - and they make claims about "The Church" that mystify members who have not experienced those things in their own local "The Church". The difference in many cases is so extreme that each person, attending "the same church", speaks about "The Church" in radically different ways.

To be more focused, for some people, "The Church" is the hypocritical Bishop or Relief Society President who preaches love and respect from the pulpit and attends the temple regularly but abuses spouse and kids in the privacy of their home - while, for others, "The Church" is the Christlike Bishop or Relief Society President whom they love and revere. For some people, "The Church" is the overly-strict and controlling parent, while for others, "The Church" is the mean drunk who changed his life completely after conversion and became the astounding parent who is an example of redemption and repentance. For some people, "The Church" is the judgmental neighbors who refused to let their children play with the non-member children in the neighborhood, while for others, "The Church" is the family who befriended and loved those who were very different.

Most of us have no power to have a significant impact on the global LDS Church, but we have enormous potential to impact (positively or negatively) our own local LDS Church - both in how we view it and in how others perceive it.  May we be good examples of the believers, even as we struggle to overcome our own weaknesses and limitations.

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