Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #46 Zion: The Pure in Heart

(D&C 57:1-3; 64:33-43; 97:8-28; 105:1-12; Moses 7:12-19,61-63,68-69; Article of Faith 10; OH p. 37-38,145-146)

"If ye are not one, ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27).

One thing I have struggled with over my life, as you probably have as well, is being one with others.  It's a common, almost universal, problem among anyone over the age of six.  The natural man wants to be an enemy, to compare himself to others, to criticize others if they are different, to be intimidated by others if they seem better than him, to be annoyed by others if they don't meet his specifications, to put others down in an effort to build himself up.  We all do this.  But it doesn't solve any problems or make any situation better.  It creates feelings of enmity, however small the act or thought.  It turns us away from Zion.

As I have battled this tendency of the natural man, and tried to be one with others, I have noticed a wonderful side effect:  Life is a lot more fun when you genuinely like other people! 

Imagine going to a party where all the guests are your best friends.  You know it's going to be a fun time, you are going to feel relaxed and happy, and the time is going to fly.  Now imagine going to a party where all the guests are people you can't stand.  It's miserable and you can't wait to get out of there.  But the irony is that we choose what kind of party our life is.  We choose whether we consider people friends or foes by our reactions to them.  It's entirely up to us.

Most of us reserve some particular neighbors, relatives, ward members, or a whole category of people as our irritants.  Criticizing others feels satisfying; it can even become a hobby.  It's hard to give it up.  Comparing ourselves to others feels gratifyiing if we put them down to build ourselves up.  Noticing a fault in someone that they seem clueless about makes us feel smarter than them.  Sometimes it seems like it would be completely impossible to not be annoyed by some other person--we rationalize that anyone would be annoyed by such behavior. These various attitudes of enmity create a feeling of superiority and it kind of feels good.  But it is a lie, because we are not superior.

Comparing ourselves to others feels noble, if it results in our putting ourselves down.  But this is not humility.  It's just enmity again, with ourselves as the focus this time.  Comparison usually leads to depression, to despair.  And "despair cometh because of iniquity" (Moroni 10:22).  It is another lie, because we are not inferior.

Despite the immediately gratifying feelings enmity brings, it never feels as good as genuinely liking others, despite their faults, their virtues, or their personal quirks.  "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:43), and neither should we be.  Every single person ever born on this earth is a child of God, equal to you and me, even our relatives and coworkers.  There is no way we can ever understand what made each person the way he is, so there is no possibility of fair judgment on our part.  But giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they have a good reason for how they are, being confident that they are doing the best with what they have, and celebrating their uniqueness can bring us great joy in our unlimited friendships.  We can be confident in any social situation if we bring love to the table.  Every encounter is more enjoyable when love is the dominant factor in our attitude, even if the other person has a different attitude.  Considering ourselves on the same team with every other child of God, partly responsible for their salvation and their earthly welfare, doubles our joys and divides our sorrows.  And besides that, it's the truth.

We need to pay close attention to our reactions to others; they will guide us as to how we can achieve more unity.  We can tell if we feel a "wall" go up between ourselves and another person.  We feel an instant hardness inside.  It's a physical sensation.  That's a warning that our attitude is one of enmity.  We need to let love soften and dissolve that wall so that we can be kinsmen, countrymen and "fellowcitizens with the saints."  That is the way to find enjoyment in every relationship.  That is the way to find peace in life.  That is the way to find Zion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great lesson, one that I need a lot more than my class. And thanks for making your lessons available online... I've been using them for at least three years.