We will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire.
As His mortal ministry drew to a close, knowing “that his hour was come” (John 13:1), Jesus gathered His Apostles in an upper room in Jerusalem. Following their supper and after He had washed their feet and taught them, Jesus offered a sublime Intercessory Prayer on behalf of these Apostles and all who would believe in Him. He supplicated the Father in these words:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:20–23).
How glorious it is to contemplate that we have been invited into that perfect unity that exists with the Father and the Son. How can this happen?
Pondering this question, it becomes clear that we must begin by becoming one within ourselves. We are dual beings of flesh and spirit, and we sometimes feel out of harmony or in conflict. Our spirit is enlightened by conscience, the light of Christ (see Moro. 7:16; D&C 93:2), and naturally responds to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and desires to follow truth. But the appetites and temptations to which the flesh is subject can, if permitted, overwhelm and dominate the spirit. Paul said:
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:21–23).
Nephi expressed similar feelings:
“Notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
“I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Ne. 4:17–18).
But then, remembering the Savior, Nephi stated this hopeful conclusion: “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Ne. 4:19). What did he mean?
Jesus was also a being of flesh and spirit, but He yielded not to temptation (see Mosiah 15:5). We can turn to Him as we seek unity and peace within, because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle. As Paul said, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Most importantly, we may look to Jesus to help restore the inner unity of our soul when we have succumbed to sin and destroyed our peace. Soon after His intercessory plea that we might become “perfect in one,” Jesus suffered and gave His life to atone for sin. The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us (see 3 Ne. 27:16–20). It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation.
As we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble. There is greater and greater harmony between the spiritual and the physical until our physical bodies are transformed, in Paul’s words, from “instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” to “instruments of righteousness unto God” (see Rom. 6:13).
Becoming at one within ourselves prepares us for the greater blessing of becoming one with God and Christ.
Jesus achieved perfect unity with the Father by submitting Himself, both flesh and spirit, to the will of the Father. His ministry was always clearly focused because there was no debilitating or distracting double-mindedness in Him. Referring to His Father, Jesus said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).
Because it was the Father’s will, Jesus submitted even to death, “the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7).
This was certainly no small thing. That suffering, He said, “caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:18–19).
These statements reveal that the Savior’s overarching ambition is to glorify the Father. The Father is “in” the Son in the sense that the Father’s glory and the Father’s will are the all-consuming occupation of the Son.
During that Last Supper with His Apostles, the Savior said:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1–2).
What form that purging may take, what sacrifices it may entail, we probably cannot know in advance. But if with the rich young ruler we were to ask, “What lack I yet?” (Matt. 19:20), the Savior’s answer would be the same: “Come and follow me” (Matt. 19:21); be my disciple as I am the disciple of the Father; become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [you], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
President Brigham Young spoke understandingly of our challenge when he said:
“After all that has been said and done, after he has led this people so long, do you not perceive that there is a lack of confidence in our God? Can you perceive it in yourselves? You may ask, ‘Brother Brigham, do you perceive it in yourself?’ I do, I can see that I yet lack confidence, to some extent, in him whom I trust.—Why? Because I have not the power, in consequence of that which the fall has brought upon me. …
“… Something rises up within me, at times[,] that … draws a dividing line between my interest and the interest of my Father in heaven; something that makes my interest and the interest of my Father in heaven not precisely one.
“… We should feel and understand, as far as possible, as far as fallen nature will let us, as far as we can get faith and knowledge to understand ourselves, that the interest of that God whom we serve is our interest, and that we have no other, neither in time nor in eternity” (Deseret News, 10 Sept. 1856, 212).
Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. At times I tremble to consider what may be required, but I know that it is only in this perfect union that a fulness of joy can be found. I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer.
May God hear the Savior’s prayer and lead us all to be one with Them is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.