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Saturday, October 25, 2008

What It Means to Be Brothers and Sisters in the Family of God: Imagine Lifting the Veil for a Moment

Think of the people you've interacted with in the past week. Some friends, I hope, but also probably some people you can't stand, some you have to put up with, some you try to ignore, a few who might be genuine enemies or threats, and a host of people you really didn't notice or maybe even couldn't care less about. How different would this week have been if the Lord had lifted "the veil of forgetfulness" from your mind, allowing you to recall your pre-mortal existence as a spirit, one of God's many sons and daughters, waiting for this precious opportunity of mortal life?

Imagine the veil being lifted and finding out that all these people around you are people you knew before. What if you knew them so well and for so long that you were at least as close to them back then as you are with any of your best friends now? To get even more extreme (and perhaps completely incorrect), what if you could see that everyone around you was actually a "best friend" from before, people you loved intensely, knew well, and shared common hopes and dreams with?

I struggle to even pose the question because I find the implications to be troubling, overwhelming. When I fail to treat any human being with love and even joyous warmth, am I slighting a best friend?

When that cab driver asks me for my cloak for what clearly should be a half-cloak fare and I get irritated and object instead of giving him twain, am I missing a chance to show compassion to a dear friend in financial trouble? (Travel tip: Always bring extra cloaks when using cabs!)

When I am curt with yet another telemarketer offering me the rare opportunity to participate in a free survey, am I making life a tad more unpleasant for someone that the real me once loved?

So what if we could remember who all these people around us are and recall joyous relationships that persisted far longer than any of our mortal lives? Would that change how we treat others and respond to them? I think so, but struggle to cross that bridge. It's a question, though, that might help remind us of the practical challenge posed by that Mount Everest of human accomplishment - no, that's not right, for it is a mountain far higher that no human can climb alone, a mountain of divine, not human accomplishment that we are all called to scale: Mount Charity.

Part of the challenge is that it is not enough to have charity for a few selected people. The divine call is to love everyone, to recognize the divine origins of every human soul and our common relationship as sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who wants us all to return to His presence, through the grace of His Son, and perhaps with a little help from our friends.

10 comments:

Bookslinger said...

And after we look backwards to the pre-mortal existance, and ponder what might have happened, and how it should affect our actions in the here-and-now, then let us look forward to the post-mortal existance, (both pre- and post-resurrection) and ponder what might happen, and how it should affect us in the here-and-now.

Here is what I envision:

Sometime, at some point prior to the end of the millennium, everyone is going to know the whole story of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, ie., every tongue confess, and every knee bow.

Our memories of our mortal existance (if not the pre-mortal existance too) will be with us. We will remember friends, associates, family members.

We will interact, converse, compare notes, share stories.

And then....

all my friends, associates, and family members with whom I did NOT share the message of the gospel, will grab me by my spirit shoulders (or physical resurrected shoulders) and exclaim...

"You knew!? You knew, back on Earth, what the truth was, and you didn't tell me?! I thought I was your friend!"

And....

those with whom I did share the gospel, and who accepted it in mortality, will rejoice with me, and great will be our joy.

And...

those with whom I did share the gospel, and who did not accept it in mortality, but did in the spirit world, might say "Hey! You were right. Thanks for trying to get through to me back then."

jayleenb said...

Well, after playing "Random Mormanity" all I can say is:

"Praise Senseless Chance!"

I have been trying lately to share the Gospel more freely, and just be nicer in those stressful moments with my mortal brothers and sisters. Some success, some failure. I have to continue to be filled with love for the Father so that I will love his children as He does. It sure sounds easy....

Great post Jeff. It should be important to us at all times and whoever we encounter.

Ryan said...

Wow. This is a real stumper you've posed here. I suspect that, just like now, there were people in the preexistence we'd rather not be around for various reasons... but that the two sets don't necessarily have many people in common.

At the same time, though, it doesn't seem right to be in heaven and have people around you who you'd rather weren't there. Sort of like attending the temple with a someone you have unkind feelings for...

The implications are indeed staggering.

Anonymous said...

I have thought of this a lot--

I DO try to be kind to everyone, but one of the things we are here to do is to learn to set priorities--

that is why we don't "marry" everyone--we choose one person; that is why it doesn't really take a village to raise a child; it takes a family--

I do believe that you can love and care about someone without being a "close" friend--

I think many of the traits that attracted us in the pre-mortal existence may bring us together here.

It's a good thing to keep in mind, and I have done that--

but I want to make sure that I am not an infidel (thinking New Testament) who doesn't take care of "those of my house"--

many of us (I don't exclude myself) tend to be very black and white; often in religion we are very black and white--

it was this idea of "we're all one, big, happy Christian family" that obliterated the sanctity of marriage in the 60s, starting among "progressive" Lutheran ministers--

who went SO far with this concept that . . .

"free love" or "open marriage" resulted--

*sigh*

See what I mean?

Eventually, someone finally realized that it had gone too far and realized that loving everyone "else" DID have to have some limits--

kindness, civility, always--

equal treatment of EVERYone?

no--

otherwise, we take the food from our children's mouths and give it to others--

and we have chaos and not order--

When I was growing up in the 50s I remember that most mothers were stay at home, and they often exceeded themselves in making meals for those who were needy in the ward--

I can remember dishes that I rarely got going out the door to feed other families and wondering--

it became MORE difficult for me to share as I got older, not easier, because I felt that I was neglected when my parents served--not always, but sometimes--

Of course, I had to grow out of that, and I consider myself to be a reasonably generous person now; I don't watch others eat the food I give them and wish I had it for myself--

but . . .

there IS a reason we have families--
we really need to put our spouses first, then our children--

not to be obnoxious with other people--

I think the important reason for thinking of this is to avoid "cliques"--

to avoid socio-economic stationing even in the church--not to mention the world--

Tony said...

Yet another wonderful and thoughtful post, Brother Lindsay. Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

This post sounds like it's from "Out on a Limb" by Shirley MacLaine

Nyssa Hill said...

This post really made me think. I have a problem with talking about people, and I have been trying to do better, but it is really hard sometimes. This really put everything in perspective. I need to be nice to people not only because it is a commandment, but because I truly love the people around me.

yieldingmyheart said...

I think your points are well made and right on. More to the point for me, even if the person across from me wasn't my best friend in the pre-mortal, there is no doubt my Savior loves him and knows him well. The reason Jesus loves him is because he knows his eternal worth. I try to picture that worth when it's difficult to treat someone kindly.

Tracy Keeney said...

Great post, Jeff.
Remembering that as spirit children of God, we are all brothers and sisters is something that is hard to do sometimes.
We all "know" it, but REMEMBERING that and keeping it in the forefront of our minds, especially in moments of distress, anger, frustrations etc, is another thing entirely.

Catherine said...

Thank you for your post. It helped me when preparing and teaching a lesson on the worth of an individual in Young Women on Sunday.