Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our Hearts Knit as One

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another" (Mosiah 18:21). One of the most oft repeated commands in all of scripture is the command to be united one with another. Yet, it is also one of the most difficult commandments to keep, because we do not understand what it means to be united. We do not know the level of unity that is required of us.

Obviously, perfect unity is not something that will occur overnight, nor will it probably happen in mortality, but we can strive towards that unity. In the great intercessory prayer, the prayer of the great High Priest, the Savior pleaded, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:21-23). That is the command. We are not seeking unity simply for the sake of unity. We seek unity, because there is one universal truth to which all things subscribe, and if we know of  "things as they really are, and of things as they really will be", we will all be united as the Father and the Son are united (Jacob 4:13).

The impossibility of perfect unity now should not hinder our quest, however, to find unity among our fellow saints, our brothers and sisters. In fact, we are under covenant to become united with them. We are under covenant, "as [we are in] the fold of bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;" (Mosiah 18:8). In other words, the burdens of our brethren and sisters become our burdens as well. There is no better way to become united with another soul than to come and help them with the load on their shoulders. In so doing, love is fostered as we focus on the person.

The greatest burden any of us bear in this life is sin. It brings each one of us pain, because we know we have not lived up to our divine potential. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). We are youth of the noble birthright. We are children, and thus heirs, of the King of Zion, God of Heaven and Earth and all things which in them are. When we do not live up to our divine potential, our spirit cries out in agony, pleading for mercy and for redemption from the bands of spiritual death, which bind us down.

As in all other things, the Savior is the perfect example. In His autobiographical account of the Atonement in the Doctrine & Covenants, He said, "Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I  smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repentBut if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. Wherefore, I command you again to repent" (Doctrine & Covenants 19:15-20). For a different person's burden, the Savior suffered in both body and spirit; He did things He didn't want to go through. Most importantly, He invites all to repent multiple times.

The burdens which others have might be things that we are uncomfortable around. They might be things that seem so easy to avoid, but they are ensnared in that pit of briers. Of course, if it is something that would cause you to transgress, flee. However, those situations are very rare and far between. Instead, we must stand as each other's strengths. We must become united with our brethren and sisters through bearing their burdens, and, by so doing, become united with the Son of the Eternal God in a small way.

We each have our strengths and weaknesses. We each have different spiritual gifts: to "some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby" (Doctrine & Covenants 46:12). That is the whole purpose of having the organizational aspect of the church, from the family to the church as a whole. If my spiritual gifts cover Josh's weakness, and his gifts cover Sarah's weakness, and her gifts cover your weakness, and your gifts cover my weakness, then everyone is taken care of.

Yes, it takes great humility to say to someone that you need their strength to help your weakness. There is often a fear of judgement from the other person, even if you know they aren't trying to judge. The humility will come out in its strength and power, either when you choose or when you hit rock bottom, because God would have you be humble. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27). And, quite often, God will use other people to help us develop that weakness into a strength, by placing people in our lives whose weaknesses are where our strengths are and whose strengths are where our weaknesses are.

Usually when we are using our strength to help another's weakness, we don't notice how much we are helping, because it is a strength. The most minute action can mean worlds to others. You never know when your gift of being happy with a smile on your face will brighten up someone else's day. You never know when your gift of discernment will help you to give a friend a hug at just the perfect moment to give them strength to get through the day. Those are things that we often do that take little to no effort at all, but to another, that action could mean worlds to them.

In addition to all of this, if we are truly to have our hearts knit as one, we must learn to communicate with each other, and do more than just the socially accepted just saying you're good when people ask how you are doing. It lacks depth of understanding when we do that, and we mock the need for unity. As part of mourning with those that mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort, we must allow others to know when we mourn or when we stand in need of comfort, so they can fulfill the obligations of their covenant.

We often don't do that. Why? Who cares? We just do not share our true feelings, usually out of fear. We fear that nobody will care. We fear that people will judge us because we've been to hell and back, and might have gotten singed from the fires of affliction. And that is just the way of the world.

But we are not to be following the world's way, we are to be following the Lord's way. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Not only are His ways different than the world's, but they are also more nobler than the world's. The Lord's way, I feel, is taught very well by the doctrine of prayer.

From primary on up, we keep being taught that if it's important to us, it's important to him. We are commanded to pray always, and not faint. We are commanded that we should not perform anything save in the first place we shall pray. We are commanded to share our fears, our loves, our joys, and everything with our Father in Heaven. If He is the perfect example, shouldn't our communication be the same?

As we reach out to each other, and love God and our fellowmen, our hearts will become knit as one. We shall become united, and Zion, in her beauty, shall rise. May we each strive to knit our hearts with all around us.