Friday, December 20, 2013

ANTI-ENEMY OR PRO-KINGDOM OF GOD


In October 2007, Elder Quentin L. Cook taught “We live in a precarious time . . . [when] we need to have faith and not be fearful.” Sometimes Mormons feel, and even are, attacked in various ways by those who accuse them of being un-Christian. Ironically these accusers often act in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In October 2008, Elder Robert D. Hales taught, "The Savior has said, 'He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me' (3 Nephi 11:29). More regrettable than the Church being accused of not being Christian is when Church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way! May our conversations with others always be marked by the fruits of the Spirit—'love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance' (Galatians 5:22–23). To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is 'manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.' Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.

"As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord." 

Do we imagine being heroic when confronted by strangers but fail to remember or imagine being heroic in daily frustrations of our own family.

The Book of Mormon teaches, “In the strength of the Lord, [we can] do all things” (Alma 20:4). The Lord's strength is never found in quarrelsome contentions. 

Can we respond to accusers without accusing - in all situations? 

Can we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in public AND at home?

Elder Hales instructs, “As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. . . . Without guile, true disciples avoid being unduly judgmental of others’ views. . . .We need them, and they need us. As President Thomas S. Monson has taught, ‘Let us learn respect for others. … None of us lives alone—in our city, our nation, or our world.’

Elder Hales taught that Christ-like characteristics “are first learned in the home and family and can be practiced in all our relationships. To be guileless [like Nathaniel in the New Testament] is to look for our own fault first. When accused, we should ask as the Savior’s Apostles did, ‘Lord, is it I?’ (Matthew 26:22). If we listen to the answer given by the Spirit, we can, if needed, make corrections, apologize, seek forgiveness, and do better.”

Doing things that bring the spirit and light into our homes and lives, and excluding things that bring darkness are deliberate choices.

If a child refuses obedience, do we patiently teach true principles and examine our own life to perfect our example for their benefit and ours. Do our spouse and children feel us respond to their concerns in respect and compassion? Do they see us following the example of Jesus Christ, especially when someone is disrespectful, yelling loudly, acting unkindly or refusing to forgive? Or do we become “warlike” and begin to treat them as “enemies?” 

We have had many reminders this semester that this life is God’s plan - His gospel and His plan - a plan of happiness for all, and that He is aware and mindful of all we do. 

In both American Foundations and Family Foundations, the same quote from President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us to trust in God more to be at peace with ourselves and others. American Foundations was debating the scope of American involvement in foreign affairs and other economic and political considerations of neutrality and peaceful non-intervention. Family Foundations was discussing how to successfully have happiness within marriages and families.

President Kimball advised we are too “warlike” and “easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord” (The False Gods We Worship, June 1976). He taught, “When enemies rise up . . . [we] depend on [things such as armaments] for protection and deliverance . . . [and] become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God. . . . We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us . . . (see 2 Ne. 1:7), or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do.” 

Remembering God’s power and grace is vital to being a disciple of Christ. President Kimball and other prophets, as well as many scripture stories they recount—such as Christ’s betrayal (Matt. 26:53), Jehoshaphat’s people, and the fear of Elisha’s servant—all remind us to trust in Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ, their omnipotent power, and tell us of the “legions of angels” at their disposal who are “fearsome soldiers." 

President Kimball recounted, "Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, 'Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them' (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, 'And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.' (2 Kgs. 6:17.)” 

In recent General Conferences, many prophets and apostles have reminded us God, and the angels that attend our lives to guard and help us keep us from being overwhelmed in this battle against Satan for the souls of God's children are near and watchful (Eyring, Scott, Monson, October 2012; Nelson, Cook, May 2011; Holland, October 2008). 

Who is our enemy? Can we remember at all times the example of Jesus Christ and realize that members of our family, and most other people are not enemies? Elder Hales taught, “Silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are [not] passive or weak. But to ‘love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]’ (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage” [sic]. 

Can I have this kind of courage and remember to be Christ-like in my own home? Neighborhood? And ward? Can I proclaim principles boldly by my actions and choices, and avoid contention, accusations, and overbearance?

Elder Hales counsels that each of us has “a great work to do, which will not be accomplished if we allow ourselves to stop and argue and be distracted. Instead we should muster Christian courage and move on. As we read in Psalms, ‘Fret not thyself because of evildoers’(Psalm 37:1).” Elder Hales reminds us that “even as the Savior warned of persecution, He promised peace: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27).” As Elder Cook taught, “we need to have faith and not be fearful” (October 2007).


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