As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what are we portraying to the world? What do we want the world to know about us? How do we accomplish that? These are some questions that I’ve been pondering today. Christ’s latter-day disciples are as diverse a group of people as you will ever see. What makes us unified? Are we portraying that unity to the world?
Actually, for as diverse a people as we are, I’m amazed at the unity that I see among us. We are a worldwide church, and we come from all walks of life. That unity comes from building our foundation on Jesus Christ. The answer to the other question, however, isn’t so easy. I’m not sure how the world really sees us, and whether or not they see us as a unified people. The internet has been a marvelous tool in missionary work around the world, but it has also given voice to those who are critical of the Church. Unfortunately, the loudest voices are sometimes those very few dissatisfied voices from within, and the world gives those voices credibility.
As a child, I remember arguing with my siblings on a regular basis. We are four completely different personalities, and we drove our parents crazy with bickering. In order to keep our parents from killing us, we learned the art of “quiet fighting”. The rule was we could all throw as many punches as we liked, but nobody better make a sound. This, we thought, would keep Dad and Mom at bay. For the most part, I think we were successful. As long as there was some modicum of quiet (and there were no trips to the Emergency Room), our parents rolled their eyes and let us have at it.
When we left our home, however, we instinctively became a unified front. We could beat up on each other all we wanted, but we would protect each other from the world like a mama bear protects her cubs. Obviously, somewhere deep inside our twisted little frames, we really did love each other.
As members of the Church, we love each other. We don’t always agree on things, and while our disagreements aren’t quite as physical as the ones I’ve described from my childhood, they can sometimes be bothersome. For the most part, however, I think we put up a united front when we leave our ward and branch buildings. Until . . . it comes to the internet. Airing our dirty laundry in public has become quite the norm, and that concerns me. While deep down in our twisted little frames we really do love each other, we sometimes give the world the impression that we are an ugly group of people who can’t get along.
This behavior is completely counter-productive to building up Christ’s Church on the earth. We are supposed to be building a Zion community—think City of Enoch. While we are all imperfect mortal beings, it is quite possible to all play nice together in the sandbox—really it is. Sometimes it is just a matter of taking three deep breaths before firing off a Facebook status update or a 140-character rant on Twitter. Other times it is resisting the temptation to write a blog post critical of those whom the Lord has called to be stewards over us.
I have a soft spot in my heart for President David O. McKay, because he was the living prophet when my family took the missionary lessons more years ago than I’d like to count. President McKay was a very kind and honorable man. This is what he had to say about unity:
Let us set an example of harmony and peace to the world. Let us prove that whether we’re in Africa, South America, New Zealand, or Australia, we’re all one in Christ. We have only one object in view: to declare to the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored in its fulness, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only plan given to man by which the peace of towns, the peace of nations may eventually come (Quoted in Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss, rev. ed. (1976), 189).
May there come into everyone’s heart, and into all our homes, the true spirit of Christ, our Redeemer, whose reality, whose inspiring guidance I know to be real.
The gospel is our anchor. We know what it stands for. If we live it, feel it, and bear record to the world by the way we live, we will contribute to its growth and upbuilding. Speak well of it, of the priesthood, of the Authorities; let the standards of the gospel radiate in our lives (In Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 149, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2011, p. 224-33), Chap. 24, “Let Your Light So Shine”).
I hope that no matter what our differences are, or at what level we are on in that ultimate video game called life, that we will not forget to build Zion and be “knit together in love.”
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. (Colossians 2:2)
As we walk the tightrope that is the internet, let us always be vigilant in representing to the world what we really are—disciples of Jesus Christ.