The idea of being “one” (as Christ put it in His great Intercessory Prayer in John 17: 20-23
) has been oftentimes misunderstood and the source of abuse. There should be nothing compulsory about this process. “Oneness” is a byproduct, and not an end. When we seek it as an end, then we have missed the opportunity to achieve it.
Believing “oneness” is achieved by making people think alike, look alike, be alike, or behave alike is so wrongheaded as to be Satanic. The ideal expressed by Christ as He prayed to the Father was that we should each attempt, in our limited capacities, to be more like Christ. The closer we approach that ideal, the more we become “one” as a byproduct. Merely giving a list of behavior as the way to “oneness” is not only foolish, but it is impossible. It must come from within, and cannot come from without.
Paul’s 14th Chapter of Romans
is actually the only way in which “oneness” can be attained. Let everyone decide what they believe will make them closer to Christ, and allow them the freedom to follow that path. Let all others refrain from judging the behavior of others. Whether they “eateth herbs” or “eateth meat” let each be free to do what they believe to be right before God. “Judge not him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Let everyone do what in their own heart they believe is right before God, because God will respect anything done on His behalf. And let everyone else refrain from judging these honest efforts, but bear with one another.
This will give rise to widely diverse behavior. but will result in an absolute uniformity of intent. Everyone should be free to do what they believe God is asking them to do. And everyone should also respect the honest efforts of others.
Over time, perhaps over generations, behavior will grow closer as a result of the purity of the underlying intent. Not because someone is compelling uniformity, but because light and truth will eventually bring harmony.
Being “one” just as building Zion cannot be a goal in itself. It is always a byproduct of the kind of people which changed hearts produce.
In a private conversation with someone a few years ago he commented that he wished the definition of “Mormonism” would be changed. He thought that anyone who was willing to accept the ordinances of the Church ought to be regarded as being Mormon, no matter what else they may differ on. I’ve thought about his comment for years now. I’m inclined to see a great deal of wisdom in that idea. I’ve grown to see that those comments echo the earlier writings of the Apostle Paul.