For Latter-day Saints, one of our greatest blessings is to be a part of Christ’s organized church, restored again on the earth. However, with anything in life, we also need to be careful of the adversary taking a beautiful thing and perverting it. As we continue to study the rise of the Church of Christ, we can open our arms to blessings while being careful not to be led off track.
Blessing: Access to Saving Ordinances
Through the Church of Jesus Christ, we have the ability to make sacred promises with God through ordinances. Through baptism, the sacrament, and the temple, we commit ourselves to live a Christ-like life and connect ourselves to the blessings of heaven through God’s authority and power. Joseph Fielding Smith reminds us of why divine authority as found in the organization of Christ’s church is so important when he said:
As to the question of authority, nearly everything depends upon it. No ordinance can be performed to the acceptance of God without divine authority. No matter how fervently men may believe or pray unless they are endowed with divine authority they can only act in their own name, and not legally nor acceptably in the name of Jesus Christ, in whose name all these things must be done.
Caution: Don’t Let It Become Too Routine
While members enjoy access to the revitalizing ordinances of the gospel, it is easy for things to become too routine. When we repeat the same actions week after week and live the same principles year and year, we can wind up taking them for granted without realizing it. We should be careful and watch the motivations and feelings in our hearts. If we’re just going through the motions, we lose out on the personal relationship Jesus Christ wants to have with us.
Blessing: Fosters a Sense of Community
Organized religion gives members of the church access to a built-in community. The programs and activities of the church foster friendship in the good times and support in the hard times. One prime example of the community build by the Church is ministering, a holy effort for members of the Church to serve one another as Christ would. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
Brothers and sisters, we have a heaven-sent opportunity as an entire Church to demonstrate “pure religion … undefiled before God”—“to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad—in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith.
Caution: Don’t Let Community Lead to Judgement
Tight-knit communities can become too tight. We start setting standards in our minds on how those in the community should look and behave. We can become judgemental of those who don’t fit what we’ve deemed the appropriate standards. Worse, we can become cruel and exclusionary. We start to see those who are different from us as “others” who must be thoroughly examined and vetted before admittance.
We need to always remember what Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
It is quite easy to judge people. This topic could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!
Blessing: Diverse Spiritual Nourishment
Joining together as a spiritual community allows for diverse spiritual nourishment. At our best, we gather together to share our unique life experiences and testimonies. We hear different perspectives and embrace the opportunity to look at something in a new way. We are all needed. President Russell M. Nelson said:
Whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights & your inspiration.
Caution: Don’t Build Your Foundation on Others
As we go to church and learn from others, we may forget to seek after Christ on our own. Our testimony is not built on a sure foundation but relies too much on others. It is good to strengthen ourselves by leaning on our church family. However, what we learn from our church community is meant to be a supplement to a thriving and intimate relationship we have with deity. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
A testimony is a most precious possession because it is not acquired by logic or reason alone, it cannot be purchased with earthly possessions, and it cannot be given as a present or inherited from our ancestors. We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves.
Do you have a first-hand experience related to any of these points? Please share them below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.