Sunday, November 15, 2015

D&C 38:27 -- On Oneness, Conformity, and Freedom

"Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."
Doctrine and Covenants 38:27

I woke up thinking about this one today.  In some ways, asking us to be one seems like God is asking for large-scale conformity... for everyone to be the same and not express individuality.  But elsewhere in the scriptures, God protects people's individuality.  When Martha asks Christ to send Mary to help her serve, he protects Mary's decision (Luke 10:42).  When Peter and John chose different things, he granted both, because they both found joy in their different requests (D&C 7:8).  I suppose that you could say that God does ask conformity on a small scale... in keeping his commandments, but that kind of law keeping is just like choosing not to murder.  It keeps us out of physical jail, and spiritual torment, which allows us more freedom to choose good things.  There are worlds of good choices out there beyond that.  God isn't asking us to be the same as each other.  He is asking us to work together.  Specifically, from the verses right before this, he is asking us to esteem our brothers as ourselves, and to treat people equally (38:24-26).  I don't think that this restricts our personalities in any way.  Yeah, it might resist our desires, if we desire to hate, or persecute, or discriminate... but it doesn't restrict our individuality, or anything that makes us unique.  I think it can feel like that though, if we've really identified with a sin, and we perceive it as part of who we are.  Some people say they are nothing without their coffee, or they center their lives around the consumption of alcohol.  There are addictions of many, many kinds, and a plethora of desires, and we internalize them and think that that is who we are... we are our sins.  But that isn't ever true.  We are more than that, and better than that... sometimes we just have to discover a little bit more about ourselves, after letting that go.
I think that being one is not about conformity, but about community.  About supporting and helping and serving each other, and finding joy in each other's company.  About lifting each other and helping each other to be better.  Resisting the urge to judge and condemn and divide, and finding ways to join together.  Today, let's be one, with God, with other people, and with ourselves.  Let's find out who we are underneath the sins.  Who we are when we are truly free.

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