Sunday, March 4, 2012

He Doesn’t Eat Onions, He’s a Mormon

          I once had a Sunday School teacher who related the following:

          He and his buddy had gone to Hawaii one summer to earn some money picking pineapples.  The two were assigned to two different groups.  Rex was the only LDS member of his group. 
Because his fellow pineapple pickers had never met anyone else from the Mormon Church, they looked at Rex to represent all members.

Rex just happened to hate onions.  There was nothing religious about it.  It was a personal preference.  He just didn’t like the way they tasted or smelled.  Many in his group believed that it was a religious thing as they had nothing else (or no one) to compare it to.
One day the two groups got together for lunch.  Some fast food place that served hamburgers.  Rex ordered his food with the added instructions, “No onions”
Rex’s buddy than placed his order.  Sensing that the two of them were together, the cashier asked, “Do you want that with onions or without?”

Before his buddy had an opportunity to answer, someone from Rex’s pineapple picking group said (I believe in a loud voice) “He’ll have them without.  He’s a Mormon”
Up until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to Rex that the members of his group had been watching him.  He was their example.  He represented the entire Church – which of course isn’t right. 

None of us is perfect.  None of us by ourselves can represent our entire religion, race, heritage, etc.  And yet so often our words are taken at more than face value.  We are an example whether we like it or not.

LDS members are encouraged to pray about the things they learn and are taught.  They’re encouraged to pray about lessons that they teach or talks that they give.  When leaders (including the prophet) are sustained, it is still up to each individual member to pray about it – to receive his or her own confirmation.  To understand the things of God and not just take the lesson or the teaching or the sustaining upon face value. 

Missionaries teach non-members and encourage them to pray that they may receive their own personal revelation as well. We each need to know and understand for ourselves.  We need to pray to Him who knows all to receive our own personal revelations. And yet many fail this simple task.  We take things upon face value due to a person’s calling or position or because of our own blind faith and idleness. 

The press picks up on words spouted from the mouths of any “Mormon” who make it to the media – be it a member of a sports team who happens to be LDS or one who uses the title bishop or stake president or perhaps is running for political office or maybe a professor who teaches at BYU.  Some individuals are more recognized than others.  But like Rex, some of us never make it to the press or receive prestige recognition, but are still being watched nonetheless. 

Do we vote according to our own personal revelation?  Or do we listen to and value the opinions of many imperfect members and take it as “gospel doctrine”?  No one of us represents the Church and yet sometimes we are the only example that some people even know of. How do our words or lifestyles influence them?  How do our words or lifestyles influence those we serve with or go to Chrich with?  Does what we say represent gospel truth or do we come across as opinionated and insincere?

And yes, there are many blind followers.  But there are those who are willing to admit their faults and desire to improve.  There are those who strive to become the best they can be – not because they want to represent the Church or have control or abuse their positions – but so they can be true disciples of Christ and let others see that they are striving to live up to his name.

If all of us (members or not) would take the time to offer sincere prayers so that we may have our own understanding – that the messages we hear are the truth and not misrepresented pieces of truth  (or our own misunderstandings of it) – that we may know for ourselves who we are and what path we need to follow for ourselves.  That we may understand God’s heart and not get caught up in theories or misunderstanding of imperfect members.  Because even though it seems there are so many who are close, none of us is perfect.

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