Fight Fire with Revelation (part 3)

Joe Fair PhD
8 min readFeb 12, 2021

And Upon This Rock…

So we’re invited to lay down our weapons, and foster kindness rather than contention. But there is so much injustice, so much out of balance.

As we look at local, national, and worldwide events that spark strong feelings, we might feel called to take action of various forms. We might want to rise up do something about it. We may feel that we can’t handle the barrage of discouraging information via various news sources and act by disengaging from social media and/or the news.

However, as covenant keeping Christians we stay informed and aware. Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants we are counseled to seek a “knowledge of countries and of kingdoms” (D&C 88:79 and 93:53). Why? So that we can “be prepared in all things.” (D&C 88:80). As covenant keeping Christians we foster opinions and practices constructed securely upon the teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures and taught by his True Messengers. We feast upon all the words of Christ, obeying all of his commandments and invitations. We do not engage in pick-n-choose obedience or selective application of Gospel principles. We do not seek to be “a law unto [our]selves” (Romans 2:14). We strive to apply the higher law to ourselves and demonstrating grace and compassion to those with whom we disagree.

And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood Moses 7:33.

What does the Savior teach?

“Love the Lord thy God” Deut. 6:5 (Matt. 22:37; D&C 59:5; D&C 20:19; 42:29;

“If ye love me keep my commandments” John 14:15

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8; Mosiah 23:15; Lev. 19:18; D&C 59:6; 88:123; 112:11. Deut. 10:19.

“When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Mathew 25:40

“Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:45

If we are to love God and keep his commandments, then listening to the prophet’s counsel fulfills at least two invitations to obedience.

“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all [the Prophet’s] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” (D&C 21:4–5).

After quoting this scripture President Harold B. Lee added,

There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

“…Look to the President of the Church for your instructions. If ever there is a conflict, you keep your eyes on the President if you want to walk in the light. If our people want to be safely guided during these [troubled] times of deceit and false rumors, they must follow their leaders and seek for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord in order to avoid falling prey to clever manipulators who, with cunning sophistry, seek to draw attention and gain a following to serve their own notions and sometimes sinister motives.”

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-harold-b-lee/chapter-9?lang=eng

True Messengers Plot a True Course

So, what are President Russel M. Nelson and the Apostles saying? Among many possible references that could be cite here, I offer just a few.

President Nelson:

I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.

The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/46nelson?lang=eng

President Nelson has repeated on several occasions that “we strive to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation or separation.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said this in 2012

“when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt…

The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions — the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts — the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade.

…Jesus said it is easy to love those who love us; even the wicked can do that. But Jesus Christ taught a higher law. His words echo through the centuries and are meant for us today. They are meant for all who desire to be His disciples. They are meant for you and me: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”10

When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake [forgave us].”11

The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/the-merciful-obtain-mercy?lang=eng

Here’s a quote by President Dallin H. Oaks in October 2020:

For generations, Jews had been taught to hate their enemies, and they were then suffering under the domination and cruelties of Roman occupation. Yet Jesus taught them, “Love your enemies” and “do good to them that … despitefully use you.” What revolutionary teachings for personal and political relationships! But that is still what our Savior commands…

…we are to follow the laws of men (render unto Caesar) to live peacefully under civil authority, and we follow the laws of God toward our eternal destination. But how do we do this — especially how do we learn to love our adversaries and our enemies?

The Savior’s teaching not to “contend with anger” is a good first step. The devil is the father of contention, and it is he who tempts men to contend with anger. He promotes enmity and hateful relationships among individuals and within groups...We move toward loving our adversaries when we avoid anger and hostility toward those with whom we disagree. It also helps if we are even willing to learn from them.

“Though Jesus’s teachings were revolutionary, He did not teach revolution or lawbreaking. He taught a better way….This does not mean that we agree with all that is done with the force of law. It means that we obey the current law and use peaceful means to change it. It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome.

“The Constitution and laws contain no invitation to revolution or anarchy. All of us…should understand the limits of our rights and the importance of our duties to stay within the boundaries of existing law…Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”

“The doctrine of the Lord’s Church teaches us another eternal interest to guide us: the teachings of our Savior, who inspired the Constitution of the United States and the basic laws of many of our countries. Loyalty to established law instead of temporary “allies” is the best way to love our adversaries and our enemies as we seek unity in diversity.”

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/17oaks?lang=eng

I saw a comment online in response to this quote that said his words were now being used out of context and that current events (because October was so long ago) cast a different light on the subject. So if it wasn’t clear enough, on 1/15/21 the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 Apostles released this statement, which reads in part,

With great concern we observe the political and cultural divisions in the United States and around the world. We condemn violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington, D.C. and any suggestion of further violence. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics, we remind our members — whatever their individual political views — to be united in our commitment to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His teachings. As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God’s children with respect, dignity, and love. No political or other affiliation should supersede that covenant and sacred responsibility.

(https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-leaders-condemn-violence-and-lawless-behavior-during-times-of-unrest)

Modern Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland in 2018 and the ancient Apostle Paul have taught about the ministry of reconciliation.

I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. “Cease to contend one with another,” the Savior pled. If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love. My beloved friends, in our shared ministry of reconciliation, I ask us to be peacemakers — to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace.

We are called to fight for something, but by all worthy accounts that fight today is for kindness, civility, respect, and patience.

Part 4
Part 2

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Joe Fair PhD

Weaving among matters of faith, mental health, and prose.