“The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.”
― President Russell Nelson.
Those who know me know that while I love and appreciate much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there is also much I find in need of further restoration/rehabilitation/revelation. (I could say the same for myself!) While I continue to attend and serve in it and believe in much of its divine provenance and guiding providence, general conference often troubles me. This last one though, was an exception. Yes, there were talks I found disturbing. Also disturbing, was again, how very few women were given opportunity to speak. But President Nelson’s call for peacemakers at this time, situated within an unprecedented focus on Easter and larger Easter traditions was a beautiful thing to behold. Here are just a few quotes from his talk:
“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others—especially when we have differences of opinion. One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.”
“The Savior made this clear in His sermons to followers in both hemispheres. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” He said. “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And then, of course, He gave the admonition that challenges each of us: “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.”
“If a couple in your ward gets divorced, or a young missionary returns home early, or a teenager doubts his testimony, they do not need your judgment. They need to experience the pure love of Jesus Christ reflected in your words and actions.”
“When we humble ourselves before God and pray with all the energy of our hearts, God will grant us charity.
Those blessed with this supernal gift are long-suffering and kind. They do not envy others and are not caught up in their own importance. They are not easily provoked and do not think evil of others.”
“The gospel net is the largest net in the world. God has invited all to come unto Him, “black and white, bond and free, male and female.” There is room for everyone. However, there is no room for prejudice, condemnation, or contention of any kind.
My dear brothers and sisters, the best is yet to come for those who spend their lives building up others. Today I invite you to examine your discipleship within the context of the way you treat others. I bless you to make any adjustments that may be needed so that your behavior is ennobling, respectful, and representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
I bless you to replace belligerence with beseeching, animosity with understanding, and contention with peace.”
I am aware of many within our church as well as other churches and the secular world who are speaking powerfully to this same theme of peacemaking. Some have addressed our group—Joan Blades, co-founder of Living Room Conversations. Erica Munsen, Utah lead for Braver Angels. David Ostler, working with the 3Practices, and Jacob Hess, cheerleader for all quality dialogue and peaceful conversation methods. In fact, Jacob just wrote a good article on political peacemaking last week for the Deseret News. And of course, many, if not most of you, are working for peace in your own ways and communities. Thank you!