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Finding true unity is a messy process

In the scriptures we find many calls for unity.

From the Psalms: “How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (133:1).

From the New Testament: “I beseech you … that ye be perfectly joined together.” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Jesus prayed for unity among His disciples, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (John 17:21-23).

Does God intend us to be robots? Carbon copies of one another? Certainly not.

From the beginning, God gave His children power to choose for themselves, leading naturally to distinctive experiences and paths through life.

We are each unique, with our own special gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). God expects us to use our agency to be wise stewards of those gifts, make wise choices and build upon the talents He has given us.

Paul taught that as disciples, we are part of the body of Christ and that each has a role to play. “But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee.” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

We can each ask God in prayer to teach us of our gifts and how we can use them to bless the lives of others.

The primary objective of unity can be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith” (4:11-13). We can all be united in worshipping God and His beloved Son Jesus Christ.

How do we develop unity with our brothers and sisters?

Prophets teach that we should care for one another and be free with our substance. Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged substitution of the word “mercy” for “substance.” Just as we have freely received of God’s mercy ourselves, we should extend mercy and grace to others.

Referring to the unity required by members of a rowing team, Sister Eubank further taught, “Races are not won by clones. Good crews are good blends. If they are to row well together, each must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the others.”

Using a gardening analogy, Sister Eubank also taught of the effort required to develop unity. “Unity doesn’t magically happen, it takes work. It’s messy, sometimes uncomfortable, and happens gradually when we clear away the bad as the good can grow.”

When we are united, we can work miracles. Jesus taught, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). I think of FACES food pantry and other service opportunities where those of many faiths come together to make our community better.

May we each grow in faith and feel closer to heaven as we dwell together in unity.

DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the elders quorum president in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@ hotmail.com.