If you will hearken to my words I will make you my people and my words will give you peace. Even a single soul who stirs up the hearts of others to anger can destroy the peace of all my people. Each of you must equally walk truly in my path, not only to profess, but also to do as you profess.
The Scriptures Project website has posted an announcement about a sustaining vote for the Lots guide and standard. Here is the link. I hope you’ll read it; it contains important information about what the upcoming vote does and does not mean.
I’m very pleased and relieved to see this development. I believe the steps taken to approve the process, obtain the Lord’s part, do the work, and receive the Lord’s approval of the document have all represented the will of the people, and that the document produced meets the Lord’s requirements.
In making this statement, I fully recognize that not everyone agrees. I have covenant brothers and sisters, whom I love, that feel differently than me about this process and this document. Some are dismayed at the prospect of completing the assignment in this way, and my heart feels for them. In that spirit, I want to offer a few thoughts to my friends who see things differently.
First, people who love each other disagree. They even do things that the other wishes they would not do. Our God, who loves us, does things that we would prefer He not do, and with which we don’t always agree. This is not a sign that He doesn’t love, value, or cherish us. Likewise, if your brothers and sisters vote to adopt this document, even when you prefer they not, it doesn’t mean they don’t love or value you.
Now, here’s a bit of tough love: Asserting that somebody doesn’t love you because they think or do things with which you disagree, is manipulative. To say that the group not agreeing with you means the group doesn’t love you, or that you are not precious, not important, or even that you are somehow more Christlike than the rest of the group is just plain wrong. This manipulation needs to stop, in all its forms, including the veiled “we don’t yet love each other” which is just another way of judging others’ hearts as unloving.
Others could just as easily throw back the very same. Is it evidence that you don’t love the larger body if you don’t agree with them? Are they not precious to you? Are they not important? Let’s agree to stop accusing one another and stop judging each other’s hearts. People who love each other disagree, and that’s OK. Mature, rational adults don’t use “you don’t love me” as a way to compel behavior.
Ok, the tough love portion is over. Sorry I had to point that out, but I did it because I care, not because I don’t.
Now for some thoughts that can be expressed in a much less pointed manner.
You have a voice! I’m aware that some still feel they have not been heard and that they therefore “have no voice.” I disagree. I hear you. I’ve heard many of you, including everyone who has commented here, those who have reached out privately, and those who have made their opinions public. People are much more aware of your feelings and opinions than you realize or give them credit for. If the majority of your brothers and sisters don’t see things the way you do, it does not mean they don’t hear you. It simply means they see things differently.
One unfortunate aspect of human nature is that we tend to equate understanding with agreement. It’s possible to understand and hear one another, to value one another’s opinions, but still disagree at the end of the day. If you assume this means you have not been heard, you will continue trying to “make your voice heard” until people change their thinking to agree with yours. But that won’t happen. At some point it’s time to realize you HAVE been heard, loved and valued, but you have not persuaded and it’s time to move on. And that’s OK. We don’t always get our way.
We also need to shun the claim that there’s some secret group of “elites” who run things and impose their will on the rest of us “little people.” I can speak from experience because I get regularly accused of being, and associating with these alleged “elites.” Here’s some perspective: I know people in this movement who work tirelessly, sacrifice greatly, and pour their heart and soul into serving the body in ways that few realize. Most of them go unthanked, unnoticed, often unappreciated, but not unaccused. If they happen to accomplish something, we all have cause to celebrate and be grateful, not find fault. It does no good to accuse those who sacrifice and labor on our behalf simply because they did it and we didn’t, or they didn’t do things the way we would have. Let’s remember the Lord’s admonition:
As a people you honor with your lips, but your hearts are corrupt, filled with envy and malice, returning evil for good, sparing none, even those with pure hearts among you, from your unjustified accusations and unkind backbiting.
Nor is it enough to say you love your fellow man while you, as Satan, divide, contend and dispute against any person who labors on an errand seeking to do my will.
Let your pride, and your envy, and your fears depart from you.There’s no need for, and no place for, an “us vs. them” mentality among those who seek to become one.
Cut Off ?
And finally, just this: If the upcoming vote sustains the Lots document, it doesn’t mean anyone has been rejected, cut off, excommunicated, thrown out, or any of the other silly assertions that get made. Such assertions are just as manipulative as the idea that disagreeing with someone means you don’t love them. Nobody is getting cut off or excluded, and nothing changes, except we will have completed the Lord’s assignment in a way most of the body doesn’t dispute. Some will yet dispute, and that’s OK. We still move on together, learn from our mistakes, and do better on the next assignment.
In a parallel example, early on, a number of documents were proposed for inclusion in the scriptures. There was an open vote to determine which ones got in. Some documents made it, some didn’t. And I disagreed with some of the outcomes, as did plenty of others. But we all took it in stride and moved on. Nobody was cut off, unheard, unloved, or undervalued just because the outcome didn’t go the way they preferred.
Why should this be different?
The Lord tasked the body with writing a document. The body voted on a method of doing so, which included the Lord’s selection of who would do it. Those selected faithfully performed the assignment and produced a document that the vast majority of the body find acceptable, as evidenced by the Phoenix vote. If it gets adopted, like the other documents, I hope nobody takes it as a personal affront or act of cutting off.
Think about the word “adopt.” As with adopting a child, it means to take what is not your own, and embrace it, making it yours. It is an act of supreme love, commitment and sacrifice. Does adopting a statement carry the same connotation? I believe it does, particularly when the statement may not be the one you created, or prefer. Those who let go of their own preferences and adopt a statement that is not their preferred approach perform a more exemplary act of sacrifice and love than the rest of us. I believe the Lord used that word, “adopt” as an invitation to do just that.
I pray for an end to disputation and a completion of this assignment. I love and pray for my brothers and sisters with whom I don’t agree, and I hope you will love and pray for me, and for those who, at great personal discomfort and sacrifice, are seeking to complete this assignment in the way they believe the Lord requires. When they stand to ask for the body’s opinion, I pray we will all be kind and respectful to them, recognizing they are standing as servants and not masters.
Many among us are willing to accept a document that is not our favorite, in the spirit of adoption and choosing to not dispute. They are humbly choosing to submit to keep peace and put on display their soft hearts. Would it not please the Lord if we were all to do this because of our united desire to obey His commandment to us? Is it also not a thing of the heart to choose to not dispute? And does that not reflect the unity of heart the Lord requires of us? In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ teaches us "And blessed are all the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (3 Ne 5:10)
I hope we can be the children of God.
Repent, therefore, like Peter and end your unkind and untrue accusations against one another, and make peace.