This lesson is all about becoming unified with Christ. Becoming unified with Christ comes as a result of being closer to the Spirit and staying morally clean. When we come to think of our body as a temple of God, a sacred place for the Spirit to visit, our behavior changes, and we do and say things in new and better ways.
The following side note is a quote from the teacher’s manual and is important for each of us to consider when dealing with each other and making assumptions about each other. We should always adopt this view of our brothers and sisters, whether we are just dealing with them in class or dealing with them in real life.
Suggestion for teaching: Elder Boyd K. Packer counseled: “It is essential for a teacher to understand that people are basically good. It is essential to know that their tendency is to do the thing that is right. Such an exalted thought is productive of faith. It makes all the difference when we stand before our own children or go before a class of young people to teach them” (Teach Ye Diligently , 73).
Reading Assignment: 1 Corinthians 1 – 6
Additional reading: 1 Corinthians 7–10; Bible Dictionary, “Pauline Epistles: Epistles to the Corinthians,” 743–44.
Avoid contention and be unified
In the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians the Saints are chided by Paul for being so divided. Some claimed the superiority of their baptism over another’s baptism by virtue of the person who baptized them. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul pleads with them to set aside their divisions and be united as a body of Saints.
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
In his discussion of their behavior Paul tells them that Christ is not divided, and that because they are so focused on worldly things, like pride and their station in life, that he cannot give them the meat of the gospel, only milk. There are those happy wards and branches in the Church where everyone accepts one another, supports one another, and prays for one another’s success. But unfortunately, there are also wards and branches where there are those who feel they must judge one another and raise doubts in the minds of others, the sow seeds of discord. These things ought not to be.
How do we do as Paul instructs? To speak the same thing means we have come to understand the doctrine of the gospel and we all teach the same doctrine. We seek to support each other spiritually, physically, and emotionally. But to do these things requires something we don’t usually think of. If we try to become unified by trying to be like one member or a group of members then we end up possibly adopting their weaknesses. The one we need to try to be like is Christ.
When we are all trying to be like Christ by following the Spirit in all that we do then we automatically become more unified as a people. The Spirit will not tell one person to do something that would hurt or hinder someone else. He will only teach us how to be supportive and kind, loving and gentle one with another. The key to unity is to seek the Spirit at all times.
Rely on the Spirit rather than the wisdom of the world
When Paul discusses the difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world it can get very confusing. The Lord has always told us that the wisdom of the world is as foolishness to Him. Why? Because His knowledge, the knowledge to create and maintain the universe is so far beyond anything we can possibly learn in our lifetime that we simply cannot compare our abilities to learn with those of God.
So why does the Lord want us to learn secular (non-religious) things? He has told us we are required to learn languages, and everything we can about the earth, the stars, the oceans, science, etc. To what end? There are a number of reasons, a couple of which are that He wants us to keep our curiosity alive. We need to be seeking knowledge, both physical knowledge and spiritual knowledge all the time. This is important for our salvation. The more we learn of secular things the greater our capacity to be able to more quickly grasp spiritual concepts as well. Learning keeps our minds active and constantly growing in capacity. Even if secular knowledge is not always completely correct, it teaches us how to think, and how to reason.
The difficulty with secular knowledge is that the world teaches that their knowledge is all there is. There is a lot of pride wrapped up in secular knowledge. All spiritual knowledge is completely discounted and deemed to be worthless. But that which comes from the Lord is of an eternal nature, not just of a mortal nature, so the wisdom of the world is truly foolish compared with what the Lord knows and reveals to His faithful servants. This is why it is through even untrained servants, like Joseph Smith, the Lord was able to do mighty things in restoring the gospel in the latter days. The Lord only requires that we be humble and teachable. We don’t have to be well educated to receive revelation.
It is interesting that in all other Christian churches the more people become educated the less faithful they become to their faith, except in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Studies have shown that the more educated we become the less likely we are to leave the Church, and the more faithfully we serve in the Church. The point is that as helpful as worldly knowledge is, spiritual knowledge is even more important to our long term happiness and prosperity. No matter how important worldly knowledge is, spiritual knowledge is always more important and more accurate.
Be morally clean
Why do you think Paul compares our body to a temple? What behaviors keep temples clean? Among many good answers you could include reverent treatment of the physical temple grounds and building. When we go to the temple does it help in the sacred experience if we keep our thoughts clean and worthy, focused on the reasons we are there? Do we go to the temple seeking communion with the infinite? Are we seeking revelation and peace through the Spirit?
If our body is a temple, can we expect that the same behavior we use for the physical temple would work for our bodies? Can we stay in tune with the Spirit if we make good moral choices and shun the breaking of any commandment? Can we be reverent in how we treat our body by not dressing in lewd or irreverent ways? Can we show respect for our body by choosing not to stencil images and patterns, like graffiti on the body God gave us? We can also choose not to look at things that poison our mind, like pornography and sexual or violent movies or photos.
It is good to remember that our mind is part of our body. To keep ourselves clean and worthy of the Spirit we also need to keep our mind clean and ready to receive the Spirit at all times, just as we would hope the Spirit could come to the physical temple at any time to give us guidance there. By keeping our thoughts clean through the good things we read, watch, and think, the Spirit is free to come to our aid at any time.
Unity through Christ
Doesn’t this description of the temple sound like something that would be inviting to Christ? Doesn’t this sound like the kind of place He would be happy sending His Spirit? If we want to become unified as a people, we need only seek unity with Christ through His Spirit. As we learn the doctrines of the gospel, keep our minds and hearts clean and pure from the corrupting taints of the world, we become more like Christ. Imaging going to Church each week and sitting among a roomful of people who are all earnestly seeking that kind of unity with Christ. What a wonderful experience we could have in the Church.
As we seek to be unified with Christ through His Spirit, we will find more joy in our service. Our hearts will be drawn out in prayer for the welfare of our fellow Saints. We will be more supportive of our leaders and each other. We will become more forgiving of each other, more tolerant, more patient. Then our leaders will be able to give us more meat in the gospel, instead of just milk.
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