- The doctrines of the church. This includes the scriptures (yes, all 4 books included in “the standard works), modern revelation, and the principals taught. This would also include the POV regarding various behaviors, lifestyles, choices, etc. These come from God, all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, and are directions on how to obtain the greatest happiness and joy.. both in quality and quantity. These teachings are perfect. Generally delivered by men and always carried out by men (and by this I mean human beings), they may not always come across quite right, but with the help of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for the hearer/student to gain a perfect understanding.
- The membership of the church. These are the people who make up the church- neighbors, ward members, coworkers, etc. These are people, human beings. By nature they’re flawed. They have issues, drama, incomplete knowledge, biases. Despite all this horror, I still believe in the basic goodness of human nature. Yes, people often do or say things that hurt us, but by and large, I think they mean well.
- The organization and structure of the church, the hierarchy of how things are.. governed, for lack of a better word. Although designed by a perfect God, it is executed by men.. see discussion regarding membership of the church.
Understanding the distinctions is vital to understanding ways to overcome someone’s issues with the church… even if that someone is you.
See, our Father uses all of these. Knowing full well how imperfect His children are, this is what He’s chosen. He uses the organization and structure of the church to deliver the doctrines, teachings, and directions to the members, His children.
Which brings me to my next point. So many times, I hear someone say that they have withdrawn from the church (whichever facet applies) because something happened and they got offended. Why? Why do you let an imperfect human being get in the way of your relationship with your Father?
So your Visiting Teacher made an insensitive comment. Chances are she doesn’t quite know the whole story. Or maybe your bishop thinks you need to learn “how to communicate better”… Don’t we all? What if the Relief Society President is a nosy busy-body? Unfortunately, a little bit of that is needed with that calling. So what if the neighbor lady (a member of the ward) has been saying ugly judgmental stuff about you? Let her. That’s between her and her conscience and God.
What does that have to do with the relationship between you and your Father in Heaven? Let it go. Get in touch with your inner child of God. Learn of your Father, and use the church (the organization and structure) as He would have you use it. Let it be a tool for you to learn to talk with Him, to learn of His doctrines and how to follow His directions for happiness, and to appreciate His love for you.