Marcel is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is an address he gave in a congregation on February 27th, 2022.
Is it reasonable to expect to understand all things about the gospel right now? I don’t think so. We operate a lot on faith, which is less than a perfect knowledge. Even if you don’t understand something, or even don’t like something, do you trust God? Can you really move forward in the darkness with the Lord’s guidance?
The church is led by Christ. But it is administered by people.
In case you didn’t notice, the people in the church are imperfect. This includes your quorum and class members. And your leaders, including us on the stand. And you.
Leaders and members are not the only places where we expect perfection. In what other ways?
- Temple recommend, keeping commandments
- Callings: serving and being served
- Policy (for example, masks and activities during Covid)
- Body image, job title, house (can’t come to dinner at my house unless spotless), family (We Don’t Talk About Bruno)
- Be alike, that we should compare our characteristics and situations to others and find sameness
Yes, we strive to do our best in these areas, but should we really expect perfection? No.
A wise person said that all frustration comes from un-met expectations. Think about when you’ve been frustrated, I bet it was caused by un-met expectations. Frustration leads to anger. Disappointment leads to doubt. We, even in the church, have too much anger and too much doubt.
My favorite BYU Devotional is the one by Brad Wilcox on Grace. Look it up now, and watch it with your family. That is your assignment for today. Go to YouTube and search “Brad Wilcox Grace”. He uses the metaphor of piano lessons: what the Lord requires of us is not perfection, but practice, practice, practice. Wherever you happen to be in the gospel, work on doing your best, and work on taking steps of forward progress. That is what we are asked to do. God will meet you where you are today, wherever you are, and encourage you and help you to make improvements. Perfection does not exist in mortality, so let go of the idea of finding it here. It is an unreasonable expectation. It will not be met. Expecting it to be met will cause frustration. Ups and downs and imperfections are normal. You are in good company with all of humanity.
I’ve heard it said that in church we are a bunch of amateurs practicing on each other. And with our families, we are a bunch of amateurs practicing on each other, at really close range. Don’t expect perfection from people. So be patient with others and don’t expect perfection from them. And the hard part, be patient with and don’t expect perfection from yourself, because you’re a person too.
God is not setting us up to fail. He is letting us learn by having experiences in an imperfect world that teach us things we can learn in no other way.
God is not setting us up to be loved less. He is letting us have opportunities to develop more Christ-like love for others.
What we learn and how well we love is up to us.
I have 5 kids. I’m amazed at how different they are from each other, coming from the same parents, growing up in literally the same house. I love them all. Isn’t it similar that all of us, God’s children, coming from the same heavenly parents, are different and unique. Don’t be frustrated by your uniqueness, because it is a gift from heavenly parents. Your uniqueness is a blessing from God to serve those around you in a way that nobody else can. And to see the world in a way that nobody else does. Belonging and fitting in doesn’t mean we have to all be the same.
If we look at the temple recommend questions it’s not about perfection, but about making forward progress. Three of the recommend questions specifically use the word “strive”. The Miriam Webster dictionary defines strive as “to devote serious effort or energy: endeavor”. It’s not about binary success or failure, it’s about serious effort and energy. If the temple let in only people who were perfect and fully successful, nobody would be there.
So when we think about our efforts in the gospel, in our qualification for the temple, it’s not about perfection now. As Elder Jeffrey R Holland taught in the October 2017 general conference, be ye therefore perfect, eventually. We are now in the Telestial kingdom. The Lord would never give us a commandment He knew we could not keep here. If we continually press forward, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete. But right now, not yet.
Why do we need the temple? Our Stake President has said being a good person isn’t enough. Covenants and Ordinances, including those in the temple, bind us to Christ. As evidence, that is why we have proxy ordinances in the temple, to bind families together, and to bind us all to Christ, even those people that are already good.
The atoning help of Jesus Christ is not something you reach after you have endured to the end. He is not waiting at the finish line. His atoning help is for you right now, wherever you are at. He is with you every step of the way and will help us get to the finish line. Just reach out your hand, right now, and take His. You are loved now.
If we inspect our spiritual foundation, it should include principles like these:
Matthew 22:36 – Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [Note that last sentence – this is a foundational element.]
You existed as a spirit before you were born on earth. And you will continue to exist after your earthly death.
You are a child of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother and they love you perfectly. They love you not because of what you do or don’t do, but because you are theirs and will always be theirs.
God listens to your prayers. Every single prayer from every single person in its entirety.
The Church of Jesus Christ is being restored on the earth.
There is a plan.
There is a way for you to return to God and your family.
The Holy Ghost testifies of truth, and you can receive personal revelation.
You have a purpose and are of divine worth.
Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your mistakes and shortcomings. You can be forgiven and redeemed.
God wants us to receive all that He has and all that He is. All of it.
Brothers and sisters, you are awesome. No matter how you feel about yourself, you really are awesome. You have more talents and you have more potential than you think. You have infinite worth. You are the leaders of tomorrow and today. What you contribute, even when it is imperfect, makes a difference.
Get a temple recommend. Go to the temple, participate in covenants and ordinances for yourself and as a proxy for others that didn’t get a chance. The temple is not the end, it is the means. For an hour or two, step out of the world and into the kingdom of God. Find peace. Find answers. Find belonging. Find a greater purpose. See the ordinances that are done for every person that ever lived, one at a time, by name, because they matter, and you matter. When you look at life, remember that you can do this. You belong.
This I say in the name of our foundation, Jesus Christ, amen.