Saturday, March 19, 2011

Receiving God's Image Doesn't Destroy Individuality

I saw a very profound, short statement on the wall of a high school I was visiting yesterday, and I thought how it applies to my New Year's Resolution for this month.  It said:

You were (created) as an original.  Don't become a copy.

First, I absolutely LOVE this quote in and of itself, regardless of its application to my New Year's Resolution.  I understand and accept the need for communal conformity to certain, minimal standards; I really do.  However, at the most fundamental level, I am a unique child of God - and that uniqueness is important to me. 

What struck me about this quote and my resolution is that too many people see Zion as total uniformity / unanimity / homogeneity.  They see "being united" as being indistinguishable from each other in any important way.  They see becoming "perfect" as becoming exactly alike in every way.  At least, that is how they appear to believe, based on how they act toward those who are different than they are.

I disagree. 

My favorite General Conference talk of all time (as my children will attest, while rolling their eyes and exclaiming, "I told you so!") is Elder Joseph Wirthlin's "Concern for the One" - and the part that resonates the most within me is the analogy of the multiple instruments and harmonies that are necessary to create a beautiful orshestral sound.  Everyone playing the same instrument all the time - or even different instruments but the exact same notes at the exact same time all the time - even when technically mistake-free and precisely is NOT beautiful music; at best, it is a beautiful melody.  (At worst, it is soul-less.)  All kinds of very different instruments playing intricate harmonies, counter-melodies and even varying rhythms in synch with each other and with passion and expression . . . now THAT is beautiful music. 

I am reminded of the description of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 - where each and every part is said to be as important and critical as any other. 

Truly, there is a need for some kind of uniformity and communal standardization, but we were created as originals.  We can't allow ourselves to become copies.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I love the analogy of the orchestra.

If optimal existence were all about perfect unity in all human characteristics then I would doubt God's love for his children -- and the whole thing unravels from there. How could we have the assurance that his love for us has no other primary motive than our welfare? If, in the end, there were, for the purposes of salvation, a fundamental shift in our basic selves then what of those personas that he loved from the beginning -- those for whom his love was a causal motivator?

To bring this problem even closer to home -- Perhaps the greatest torment one could anticipate is to learn that loved ones would cease to be who they are because of a fundamental shift in persona. This simply cannot be. For those who have ears to hear, remember, when we reach the final curtain it will be evident that God is interested in both preserving AND enlarging the scope of our identity -- not replacing it.


Mama D said...

"God is interested in both preserving AND enlarging the scope of our identity -- not replacing it." Fantastic synopsis, Jack.