Viewpoint: Working Together to Achieve More
Contributed By the Church News
- There is great need for unity and interdependence in the Church.
- Church members can enjoy protection from attacks by following the counsel of their leaders, remaining vigilant, and always working together.
“As I travel throughout the Church I marvel at all the positive things that are occurring. Yet I never feel that we, as a people, are living up to our real potential. My sense is that we do not always work together, that we are still too much interested in aspirations for personal honors and success, and show too little interest in the common goal of building the kingdom of God.” —Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve
Thousands of years ago, Aesop purportedly shared a fable about the importance of working together that remains relevant to today’s members of the Church.
A hungry lion, he taught, spent his days prowling about a field where four oxen dwelt. Each day the big cat attacked the oxen. But the oxen would foil his hunt by backing their tails up to each other so their bodies pointed outward in four different directions. No matter what angle the lion attacked he was met by a sharp set of horns. He could do nothing. His belly remained empty and the four oxen stayed alive.
But over time the oxen lost their fear of the lion. Soon they began quarreling. They chose to divide and live alone in separate corners of the field.
Within days the lion attacked and ate each ox, one by one. The oxen were no more.
We live in perilous times. The lions of the day are on a perpetual hunt. They are cunning and constantly search for our vulnerable spots. They seek to destroy and devour.
But Church members worldwide can enjoy protection from their attacks by following the counsel of their leaders, remaining vigilant, and always working together. The essentiality of gospel unity has been taught since days of old. The Savior Himself said, “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24-25).
Through the miracles of technology, millions of members across the globe recently gathered together for general conference. There they received instruction and gentle counsel that can help Latter-day Saint families stay safe. There they sustained their leaders. Many surely made prayerful pledges to work with their fellow members and protect the Lord’s kingdom and one another.
In his April 1987 general conference address, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the “get it done together” spirit of the early men and women of the restored Church. When husbands and fathers left for missionary service to distant lands, they felt peace knowing their brothers, sisters, priesthood leaders, and friends would step in and look after their families in their absence.
These brethren, taught Elder Perry, could build the Lord’s kingdom in faraway nations knowing that others were building the kingdom at home by caring for their loved ones. There was a special faith found in the “community of Saints” working together in a common purpose.
“As I travel throughout the Church I marvel at all the positive things that are occurring. Yet I never feel that we, as a people, are living up to our real potential. My sense is that we do not always work together, that we are still too much interested in aspirations for personal honors and success, and show too little interest in the common goal of building the kingdom of God,” Elder Perry said.
While serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Howard W. Hunter noted that the 555-foot Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., stands as a towering symbol of cooperation. It was built, in part, during the divisive and bloody days of the American Civil War. But encased inside the obelisk are stones from each of the states of the Union—a tribute and a call for national unity.
The need for unity within nations remains great, said Elder Hunter. But there is even greater need for harmony and interdependence within the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Within this Church there is a constant need for unity, for if we are not one, we are not his (D&C 38:27). We are truly dependent on each other, ‘and the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you’ (1 Corinthians 12:21). Nor can the North Americans say to the Asians, nor the Europeans to the islanders of the sea, ‘I have no need of thee.’ No, in this church we have need of every member, and we pray, as did Paul when he wrote to the church in Corinth, ‘that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
“ ‘And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it’ (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
“Paul’s words are as applicable to us today as they were to the saints at Corinth.
“As we think of the great growth of the Church, the diversities of tongues and cultures, and the monumental tasks that yet lie before us, we wonder if there is any more important objective before us than to so live that we may enjoy the unifying spirit of the Lord. As Jesus prayed, we must be united if the world is ever to be convinced that He was sent by God His Father to redeem us from our sins.
“It is unity and oneness that has thus far enabled us to bear our testimony around the globe, bringing forward tens of thousands of missionaries to do their part. More must be done. It is unity that has thus far enabled the Church, its wards and stakes, branches and districts, and members, to construct temples and chapels, undertake welfare projects, seek after the dead, watch over the Church and build faith. More must be done. These great purposes of the Lord could not have been achieved with dissension or jealousy or selfishness. Our ideas may not always be quite like those who preside in authority over us, but this is the Lord’s Church and He will bless each of us as we cast off pride, pray for strength, and contribute to the good of the whole. ...
“We pray that Satan’s efforts will be thwarted, that personal lives can be peaceful and calm, that families can be close and concerned with every member, that wards and stakes, branches and districts can form the great body of Christ, meeting every need, soothing every hurt, healing every wound” (April 1976 general conference).