Steven P. Moody and Jeffrey S. Reber: Perfecting the Saints vs. perfectionist Saints

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Steven P. Moody and Jeffrey S. Reber, both therapists and, together, co-authors of “Are We Special? The Truth and the Lie About God’s Chosen People,” taught ways LDS Church members can more accurately view themselves and those around them and help all to come closer to the Savior.

Opening the class, Moody asked individual audience members how they were doing, to which many members responded, “I’m fine,” or, “I’m good.”  Moody then illustrated how socially, many people hesitate to be truthful and open about their worries and fears. “I see this happening all the time,” Moody said. “We say, ‘I’m fine, I’m good,’ … We don’t want to admit that we have problems.”

Moody explained that those who, in social settings, hide their weaknesses make it harder for others to help them if they are facing life challenges. “If we can’t open up ourselves and be vulnerable about our struggles, then the church can’t do what it’s supposed to do.”

Outlining parts of the baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18:8–9, which stresses a “willingness to mourn with those that mourn,” Moody asked the audience, “How can we fulfill this part of the covenant if we don’t know that others are struggling?”

Moody then illustrated how pride can alienate members of the church who feel different or who have made mistakes. “In God’s plan, I don’t think he wants this. He wants us to be close to one another, to love one another,” Moody said.

Building upon Moody’s words, Reber took a turn to teach. He shared that as a former bishop he met many members who, when confessing heavy sins, would mistakenly believe they were the only ones struggling with their problem. This left them feeling alienated and alone. Reber explained that members in a ward are all sinners and should neither put themselves above or below others regardless of their spiritual or economic positions in life. “We’re all sick,” Reber said. “Even the nurses are sick. But there is one physician who wants to lift us and make us whole.”

Reber particularly emphasized the proper function of LDS wards in helping others. “A ward, a congregation, a body of Christ at its best, is designed to lift, to comfort, to ease one another in our suffering,” Reber said. “The world is hard. For us to come from a difficult week only to come to church to feel worse is a gross misuse of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He explained that the Lord’s way of perfecting the saints is not by classifying and segregating each other but by depending on the Savior and each other for help. “What if we worked towards a world where everyone could be even in the Lord?” he asked. “You could go to Church and feel strengthened, not exhausted. … This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ.”

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