Boldness with Love

In the Book of Mormon, 4th Nephi chapter 1, we read about a people who for about 200 years after Christ’s death and resurrection, lived in harmony. In that chapter, it notes that “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land.” In fact, in that same chapter, it notes that lack of contention three different times. In verse 15, we find out why: “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”

In my last post, I introduced the topic of standing up for truth. In this post, I’d like to talk about the importance of having a heart filled with the love of God as we stand for truth.

Christ taught us very clearly that we are to “love one another” (John 13:34) and even that we are to “love our enemies” (Matt 5:44). Now, those we witness to, or even contend with, are not necessarily our enemies, nor should we necessarily consider them as such. But even if it came to that, it is not an excuse to not have love in our hearts for all those around us. Christ left us no room to say “I don’t need to love that person.”

Ultimately, any time we stand as a witness for truth, we should be doing it with love. When Christ boldly withstood the Pharisees, He must have hoped that His words could in some way help that “generation of vipers.” Ezekiel chapters 18 and 33 testify of that hope. These Pharisees were children of God, and candidates for salvation. When Christ was asked to judge the woman taken in adultery, He corrected her gently and instructed her to “sin no more,” but it is entirely clear that His heart was full of love and compassion for her. All of Christ’s actions testified of His eternal love for all of us, even the ones that require correct, judgment, and act as “vipers.”

In our own lives, we might find it necessary to stand up or truth, or even to correct. When we do, we should be sure to start from a place of love. In Hebrews 12:6 we learn that God corrects those whom He loves. The verse testifies that the correction of love is in fact a witness that God loves us! How much more should our correction and testimony, when needed, be a witness of our love, always.

I believe that it is not only OK to be bold, it is sometimes critical. There are those in the world who need to hear a bold message, or they will never be reached and their hearts never softened so that they can understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf. If we are too concerned about fights, debates, and even contention, to stand as witnesses of Christ, we’re missing an opportunity to show our love for those around us. It is certainly not as easy for us to do all things properly, as Christ did, especially when it comes to emotional interactions. But we must do our best, and we must do it with love.

Standing for Truth

Jesus Christ said (Matt 10:34-36):

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, with its precepts, promises, and commands, is by nature a polarizing thing. It sets people “at variance” with each other as a result of it’s requirements. If you look at these verses from a historical perspective, you note that Jesus was talking to people who would be abandoning their religion and traditions, alienating themselves from their Jewish society. But even today, without that context, the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to “set at variance” those who call themselves Christians, with many others who do not agree with their ideals.

I’ve often wondered why some people who are not Christian have such a problem with those who are. For whatever reason, they can’t leave others alone to worship as they choose. In the Book of Mormon there are a few verses that I believe help characterize this enmity

2 Nephi 28:28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

1 Nephi 16:2  And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

Each of us knows, in some degree, the difference between right and wrong. When we stand in opposition to what we know, we are fighting against truth. Enter pride, what has been called the “universal sin.” In Proverbs 13:10 we read:

10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Through our pride, we contend. We contend with our own thoughts and understanding, we contend with other individuals or groups, and we contend with entire religions. Rather than leaving others to worship as they might, we feel the need to argue, fight, and sometimes even oppress and persecute others.

The question I ask myself is one that many Christians ask themselves in some form: how do I combat persecution, and when is it right to stand for truth as a defender? I would like to address that in a future post, because I believe that the topic deserves more attention than I am presently capable of giving it. I believe that the battle between good and evil is a battle, and that it has existed since the foundations of this World. I believe that we must fight, and be valiant in our efforts against evil. I don’t know how that concords with the way Jesus Christ intends for us to treat those around us. Certainly, we can love and still correct, we can be humble and still be firm.

I look forward to any comments that anyone may have, and to broaching this topic more in the near future.