Loving Others and Living With Differences

Moroni 7:47 Charity is the pure love of Christ

When Differences Occur

If you love someone of course you are going to be kind even when your angry, or at least that is what I think most of us try and do. We all make mistakes and the hope of the Gospel is that through the power of the atonement we are forgiven, and so we forgive others. But what about when your husband did it on purpose and and your really mad? We all know that anger and wrath are never justified, especially in the home because of the eternal nature of the family. Plus the last thing I would want is him to bring up “that” moment for eternity. jk…..but not really. It can be hard in a relationship to be loving even when your partner, friend, or family member has wronged you, but you try to maintain that eternal perspective. Especially when you know that there is a huge difference between loving someone, and being loving.

Well, what about the stranger who cuts you off while you are driving? Sure it can be really easy to get mad in those situations, but really it’s just temporary. Or when you are told for the millionth time that as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints you aren’t really a Christian because you either a. don’t believe in Christ, or b. you believe in a different Christ. Plus when that statement is made they actually say “because you’re Mormon.” I think if they actually used the correct name of the Church they might actually understand how ridiculous they sound. haha.

But now we are getting a little more serious, it’s not just accidents anymore, or a moment of thoughtlessness, now we are talking about someone attacking your faith, your relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ. Or when the government tries to tells a small bushiness owner that they “have” to make a cake for the gay couple even though they are Christian and do not support same sex marriage. How unfair is that? Teaching sex ed in schools that include lessons on BSDM, and that a 16 year old is capable of deciding they are ready to have sex or not. Fast food commercials with barely dressed women selling sex on the hood of a car, because watching it no one cares about the hamburger in her hand so it can’t be the food she is actually selling, then having to explain what that all means to our children. Same sex marriage, the percentage of people living together having children being higher than people who get married for life.  We try to pass laws, we speak out when we see wrong, we share our beliefs even if we are called bigot and hater. We should fight the battle. With kindness,  and long suffering, and love.  Not being afraid to speak what we know the truth is, but doing it in a way that does not cause bitterness and more hate. Because we will not  win every political or legal battle.

Love One Another, As I Have Loved You

At what point in these examples did Christ’s commandment to  “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12; see also verse 17) stop being the correct action? When they “won” and we lost? We know it didn’t. We are still called to love.

“When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, [even if we win the battle] we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non belief, and differences in sexual orientation.” *

Love, especially Christ like love, teaches us that there is not room for persecution and hate regardless that they do not agree with us, or their actions go against what we know to be true and correct principles. We do not need to:

“compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest.”

The Behavior Not The Person

But remember what it says. The fight is between truth and error. Knowledge and ignorance. Knowing the truth vs. being the truth. We can’t be the truth but we can know the truth. The reverse is true as well. The error that we fight against isn’t the person who believes the error. THEY aren’t they error. The belief is the error, the ignorance, the stubbornness, the ideology, what ever you want to call it, the person is not the error we fight against.They are a child of our Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally. We are fighting against the error, we are fighting against Satan, we are fighting against contention, fear, shame and embarrassment. We are fighting against hardened hearts. No hard substance has ever gotten softer by beating it in to the ground, what happens is your either make it harder or destroy it all together.
As Elder Oaks points out, “The teaching to love one another had been a central teaching of the Savior’s ministry.” President’s Monson has said, “Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love.” But what is expected of us as Saints? Is more required of us. Of course there is because we have been given that greater light and knowledge. Christ declared that  all people should love their neighbor as themselves, that we should love our enemy, but when speaking specifically to the disciples, (us in this modern day) we are told to love others as Christ loved us!  This was a commandant specifically given to those who followed him. Obviously no small task, by any means. He loved the women who was caught in adultery, (though of course he told her to go and sin no more). One of the worst sins, and yet He loved her and pointed out the hypocrisy of those who would stone her instead of love her.  He loved Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him. He loved Judas who betrayed him. He loved the criminals who hung beside him on the cross. He has and does love each and every one of us, exactly as we are with whatever we have to offer him, no matter how broken and small. No matter the mistakes we have made.

The Gift That We Get In Return

Have you ever had a child bring you a rock? A Dandelion? Maybe just a crumpled up piece  of paper? And when you ask “what is this?,” their answer? “A gift for you. I got it special just for you.” Do you laugh at them? Of course not. They thought of you when they wanted to give a gift. It may be the only thing they have to give and they decided that you were the one that they would give it to. I think we are that child before our Savoir. We are bringing him our broken hearts, our worries and cares, we bring him broken dreams, and lost hopes. We bring him ours fears, and our tears. We bring him our tired feet and sleepy eyes. We offer up our furrowed brows, and our trembling hands. As we hand it to him we are fearful, afraid of rejection, because in truth we know how sad, and lacking what we have to offer is. Yet, just like we are with the child’s gift, He looks us in the eye and says,”Why this is so beautiful. Thank you for this gift I will treasure it always, because it was from you.” He does this for us, and yet we ask ourselves why we should extend the kindness to others simply because they, “do not share our beliefs and values and covenant obligations.”

I know that forgiveness is real. That Christ can heal all wounds. I have also learned that when someone has hurt me, I disagree with them, or they believe differently than I do, and if I treat them in anyway differently than I would someone who loves me and has believes the same as I do, I will be held in condemnation. The Atonement, Christ’s sacrifice for me was sufficient to cover all of my sin, to wash me clean, and oh how thankful I am for that fact. In a General Conference talk from October 2012, President Boyd K. Packer said,“No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out.” My heart sings at that fact. That fact, though, is equally true for every single other person who have ever lived in this world, not matter what their transgression was. If I refuse to see them as a child of God, love them as the Savior loves me, and forgive them, in essence I am saying that they deserve my anger and retribution, they don’t deserve my forgiveness. If they have hurt me or other in some way and I say I won’t forgive, it isn’t fair. They deserve to pay for what they did. Maybe they do? Maybe the don’t deserve kindness or compassion? Maybe they deserve judgement and punishment, and maybe just maybe, even though of course it would never be “us” that did it, maybe they do deserve to be “persecuted”?

The problem with that line of thinking is that if they “deserve what they get” for what they have done, than so do I. I am a sinner and I have fallen short of the Glory of God, just like every brother and sister that belongs to the Human Family. No one deserves Christs Atonement. No one earns it. It is given because he loves us. We can give to our fellow human beings, kindness, tolerence, respect, and acknowledgment of the right to, “worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and [we} allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” 11th Article of Faith

We Are the Leaven

Remember to that, “We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is “like leaven,” whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence.” Just the fact of our presence in the World, as we are trying to be more like Christ, kind and compassionate, “love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs,” will actually make the world a better place. This is just my opinion, but I think sometimes we are so worried about trying to stop other people from doing what is wrong, that we forget the power of doing the right thing. Doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing, not thinking about how others judge our actions, even not being concerned weather anyone IS observing can have a profound affect on those who do observe our actions. Doing it that way we don’t even have to disagree with anyone, we just have to take care of ourselves, and others will be positively influenced.
Can you imagine if every member of Christs Church focused simply and totally on doing the right thing, being more Christ like in everything that we do. If we stepped away from the feeling of needing to correct their sinful behavior, because we know the truth, and instead simply live that truth, including the part about loving those we completely disagree with exactly the way Christ loves them. Can you begin to imagine how complexly we could change the World? Remember that, “though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.”

I say these things in Jesus name Amen,

Comming Up

Friday morning I will be posting at least one more about this talk, this time focusing on contention, and not only how contention is a sign of someone we should “flee from” but how Christ’s teaching of the principle of where contention comes from and how to deal with it was, actually primarily directed to the people of His Church and their dealings with each other. See you soon.
*All quotes unless other wise noted come from the talk“Loving Others and Living With Differences” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks      Go Back to Reading

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