The True Centerpiece of the Gospel


“Too often we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations. However, when we focus on the ‘why’ of the gospel, much of the confusion fades away.” (Dieter Uchtdorf, WLTM, 2012)

The “why” of the gospel, as stated by President Uchtdorf, is the essential doctrines and principles of the restored church of Christ. I believe that he was trying to communicate that sometimes “we can’t see the forest for the trees”, meaning that we often focus on the details but in so doing lose sight of the big picture. This is a lot easier to do than we think. In preparing a lesson we can become so obsessed about the style or the presentation, or that it is visual stunning that the message is lost in the “bells and whistles.”  Sometimes we gauge the success of a lesson to be on if we were able to deliver it the way we prepared it, rather than the effectiveness of how the students received it. Sometimes the success of an activity becomes the overriding objective of our desires.

I once had an interview with a former Relief Society President who had moved in from another state. She told of a Stake Relief Society event where the centers of the tables in the cultural hall were to be decorated by each ward. Her ward, she said, was mostly composed of more well to do members but that they also had some members that were of a lesser economic status. She told me she gave the assignment of making their ward centerpiece to some sisters that were less active and who also came from the economically challenged neighborhoods. On the day of the stake event each ward placed their centerpiece on a different table. She admitted to me that theirs was definitely lacking compared to the others. Some of the sisters of her ward bitterly complained to her about how shabby their centerpiece looked and that they felt embarrassed by it. This sister than softly said to me, “I don’t know, I thought the objective of the gospel was to help uplift others by giving them opportunities. I didn’t know it was to have the best looking centerpiece.”  Her statement has stayed with me for years because it was a stark reminder to me that we can get lost in the “meticulous expectations” and lose sight of the “why” of the gospel.

May we all remember to keep the “why” of the gospel in perspective. May we not complicate the “beauty and simplicity” of it by creating endless lists of meticulous expectations which detract from its objectives. May we find that the true centerpiece of the gospel is love unfeigned.

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