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.