After a recent conversation with Hans and Jeremy I have been contemplating the above quote by Elder Packer. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 79) When examining this statement, the patent lawyer in me cannot ignore the extra limitation in that quote that I believe makes all the difference in the world, the word understood. To prepare for writing this entry I began to review various doctrines of the church that I have studied over the past few years. I found that there are many doctrines of which I have a thorough knowledge, but there are less that I can honestly say that I understand in a true sense. This has happened for many reasons, usually attributable to my own attitude at the outset of my studies.
President Benson stated that “the Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. . . . The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment.” See also, Mosiah 5:2. These words, like the first quote, seem very intuitive. Because it is so intuitive, I believe that we fail to give this phenomenon its proper heed. In other words, I believe we often have a tendency to underestimate the power of a true understanding of doctrine. Most likely we can all look at ourselves and agree that random things simply will not change our attitudes or behaviors. I imagine that this is human nature. If we recognize this fact, we will be able to better appreciate the type of impact for good that our own personal studies can potentially have, and hopefully we will be able to better focus ourselves when we take time to study a gospel concept (or even when we are taking the time to listen to a talk or lesson prepared for us).
These thoughts bring home to me a renewed importance of attempting to learn principles, not just with our minds, but with our spirits. It also raises questions in my mind regarding the more general population of the Church. I have recently started going to Sunday school again after a year of teaching gospel essentials as a ward missionary. I have found a startling contrast in the attitudes and thirst of new converts to gain a true understanding of gospel teachings, as opposed to the more general population of the church who seem to treat church talks and lessons as nothing more than an extremely boring social encounter.
Why (assuming I am correct in my perceptions) do many people fail to apply themselves sufficiently in order to truly understand the truths that are taught at our meetings. Especially in light of the fact that they are already putting out the effort to show up and sit through the meetings. Are we not supposed to be continuing to search for further light and knowledge? For that matter, why does it seem that the general population of the church are merely content with the light they currently have. Personally, complacency in any aspect of life, especially in the gospel, has never gotten me very far. This also raises the question of what can we do (if anything) as teachers, spouses, parents, etc., to get the people that we are attempting to teach in a mindset that helps them to understand doctrine to an extent that they are motivated to change their attitude and behavior in order to apply the teachings of the gospel. For me, I am sure that recognizing the problem will be a good first step…what now?