I have a Pocket PC device, and I was cleaning it up yesterday, and came across a couple of notes from last November’s Stake Conference. I can’t remember what the talk was about, or who it was that was speaking, but the person had quoted from Matthew 5:44-45:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The Saviour is telling us to be kind to those who are unkind to us. I’ve always understood the last part of verse 45 to mean that rain is a good thing. We are to do good to others, even as He allows good things to happen (rain falling on crops) to everyone. However, the person who was speaking interpreted that verse to be a negative thing, as in just as rain falls on everyone, we all face tough times.
It just got me thinking about how there are often many ways something can be interpreted, and there is rarely a right answer as to which interpretation is the correct interpretation. This then got me thinking about how we do things in the Church. I’ve read online many times where people lament correlation, and how we have no freedom to do anything. That isn’t true. Sure, the Church Handbook of Instructions gives you guidelines, but I do think you have a lot of leeway in how you implement those guidelines. The problems that arise more often than not are because people think things are “supposed to” be a certain way. When talking to these people, I always think of a line from The Simpsons. The family moved, and Bart was put in an earlier grade than he was in Springfield:
Bart: Look, lady, I’m s’posed to be in the 4th grade
Teacher: Sounds to me like someone’s got a case of the spose’das
In the Church, there seems to be a lot of people who have a case of the spose’das. I don’t know if it is correlation’s fault or not, but too many people think things are supposed to be a certain way. They are always surprised when I nicely explain to them that it may have been like that previously, but now we have more options. Just because something was done before, doesn’t mean we are “s’posed to” do that.
There are very few things that are mandated. It really is one of the beautiful things about the Church. Local leaders extend calls to other leaders, and we all work together to help the work move forward. Sometimes we use the “best practices” of others and sometimes we try new things. We keep using what works, and take a pass on the things that don’t work.
Whether rain is a good thing or a bad thing, I’m glad that I can choose for myself.