Peacemakers Needed

Why do we need to be peacemakers? There are probably lots of reasons for that, some of which I'll discuss, but the first thought that came into mind, was that perhaps the Lord wants us to practice and perfect the ability to be a peacemaker.

Who Thinks We Need More Peace?

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Lord stands at the head of His church today, just as He has in the past. To help us establish whether or not this claim is true, in 2 Corinthians 13:1, the apostle Paul said, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” So here are some witnesses to back that claim.

First, we have our scriptures, where God has spoken to prophets and apostles and they recorded their stories, revelations, inspiration, history, and poetry for us to learn from. This is a reliable first witness. And just like God did in the past, he has called modern leaders, and given authority and inspiration to prophets, apostles, seventy, and councils made up of good yet fallible men and women, with a sacred charge to feed His sheep. That makes two witnesses. He has also called local leaders out of our own neighborhoods, and given them authority and inspiration to help each one of us get on and stay on the covenant path. These are our third witnesses. Additionally, to anyone who wants additional witnesses, but one that is more personal and can’t be denied (nor proved to others), God gives the repentant the Holy Spirit, which bears witness to the truth of all things. So that’s four witnesses. I could add more, like the witnesses that come through your own experience, through your own experiments with the word of God, and through your own reasoning.

But today, I pray that the Spirit of God will attend us as I talk about a subject that is near and dear to the Lord’s heart, and therefore to all of His disciples. In fact, this was the key message we heard from our current prophet at our last general conference. His talk was called, “Peacemakers Needed.” Personally, I believe it may be one of his greatest talks, and one that is perfectly timed for our day.

After listening and reading that speech, I think it would be fair to say that the Lord desperately wants more peacemakers in our world right away. Not sometime in the future, but right now, today, with everyone you come into contact with, either in person, through media, or over the Internet.

Why? Why do we need to be peacemakers? There are probably lots of reasons for that, some of which I’ll discuss, but the first thought that came into mind, was that perhaps the Lord wants us to practice and perfect the ability to be a peacemaker.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but our world is growing more divisive and chaotic with every passing day. The Lord himself, as well as His prophets, affirm that this downward trajectory will continue until peace is entirely removed from the earth—except for those who love peace and have learned to be peacemakers—those who are living higher, holier, heavenly laws. For these faithful people, their lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and more rewarding as they work to establish the refuge cities of Zion.

But how do we get to there from here? Well, let’s start off by going back to the scriptures and review what Jesus said about peacemakers.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

According to the apostle Matthew, or Mattityahu as Jesus would have called him in Aramaic Hebrew, near the end of the Beatitudes section of the Sermon on the Mount, the Master said:

בָּרוּכִים הַשֹּׁלְמִים, כִּי הֵם יִקָּרְאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים. (ba-roo-kheem ha’-por-seem sha-lom, kee hem yi-ka-re-u b'nei ha-e-lo-heem)

Which in English is:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

Now that’s a profound statement. So, let’s dig into it for a moment.

The Plan of Happiness

One of the unique things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we believe that we are the children of God, in a literal sense. We believe that before we came to earth, we lived in a state called pre-mortality, where we had a spiritual body that was created by God, who naturally asked us to call Him Father, which makes us His children. Reason dictates that wherever there are children, there’s likely to be a mother involved, and in this case, there is, although we know little about her, which is how the Heavenly Father intends it to be. Therefore, according to our doctrine, everyone is a spiritual child of God, which in Hebrew is called Eloah, or the plural form, Elohim, which means more than one God or the Gods. The Hebrew bible uses the word Elohim. In fact, the word “us” is used a couple of times right there at the start of Genesis. Hmmm. Something to think about.

Now in this glorious realm, once we, as children, learned what we needed to learn in that existence, our heavenly parents gave us the choice to come to an earth, like this one, where our spiritual bodies would be clothed with a physical body with all of its wonderful abilities and physical sensations. This is what they encouraged us to do, so that we could become all that they wanted us to become, but it was our choice.

But the price for that choice to become mortal would be an entire memory wipe of our premortal existence, where our spirits, now encased within a mortal body, had the choice of either letting the external body control the internal spirit, or the spirit control the body. Like the hand in a glove. It was here, on our earth, where we had the perfect opportunity to test ourselves to see if we would choose live by faith, even while being subject to all sorts of earthy trials and temptations.

However, if we chose to sin, knowingly, the price for our decision was spiritual death, or never being able to return to the presence of God once our physical bodies died. Instead, our bodies would return to dust from which they came, while our spirits lived on, but not permitted to return to God’s presence.

Why is that? Because God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (D&C 1:31, Alma 45:16). And no unclean thing can enter the presence of God (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Nephi 10:21, Alma 11:37, Alma 40:26, Moses 6:57). One of the reasons this state is called spiritual death is because we would be forever separated from our heavenly family. And last time I checked, I’m pretty sure every single one of us, except for the little children and the unaccountable, all of us have knowingly and intentionally disobeyed God’s directions. And if we don’t believe in God, we often believe in alternative authorities, such as social norms, cultural mores, and government laws, and we’ve probably broken some of those as well. Because of our wrong decisions, no matter how small or insignificant they were, or how massive and chronic they were, according to scripture, all of us are unable to return to the presence of God. We are unworthy, we are unclean, we are defiled, we are sinners, we have experienced spiritual death. Our physical bodies, the natural man, has overcome our pure spirits that lie within.

To remedy this awful situation, which God knew would occur, He provided a Savior for us, Jesus, his beloved firstborn son, the one who created the universe under the direction of the grand architect, God the Father. In Genesis 1:26 and 3:22, the pronoun “us” was used, suggesting there was more than one person involved in the creation. We believe that the premortal Jesus was chief of those.

Jesus, in his premortal condition, was the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the great I Am, the one who spoke to His prophets and gave us both the higher and lower laws and ordinances. Over two thousand years ago, when He condescended and came to earth in the humblest of circumstances, to gain His mortal body, He was the only one who had the integrity to withstand all earthly temptations, trials, and resist sin. But He too, experienced spiritual death even though He did not deserve it. It appears that the Spirit of God the Father withdrew from Jesus for a time. Remember the awful moment on the cross when he called out, “Elohi, Elohi, lama azavtani?” or “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Because Jesus had the priesthood authority, and the keys to use that authority (see the Mount of Transfiguration), and the divine power that only comes through perfect righteousness, He was the only one who had the calling and the capacity to overcome the effects of both spiritual and physical death. He was the only one willing and able to take upon himself the penalty for sins and our transgressions, as well as experiencing all of the pains and afflictions that come with mortality so that he could descend below all of us and then lift us back up. This payment was paid in full through his atoning sacrifice in the Garden, and on the Cross, and in the Tomb, where he was resurrected with a perfected, glorified physical body. He was the only one who could make us clean again and invite us back into the presence of God the Father.

And in return for the Savior’s supernal act of divine grace, the only price he asks of us, is that we exercise faith in Him, regularly repent, make sacred covenants, receive sacred ordinances performed with priesthood authority, such as baptism, and follow Him as best as we can. He wants his followers to do the type of good things he would do if he were here. If we covenant to follow him, he will covenant with us to wash us clean, and help make up the vast difference between what we did versus what we should have done, and then clothe us with a resurrected physical body that is permanently sealed to our spiritual body. And then, if we choose to do so, we can, once again, return to our heavenly home and live with God.

With an understanding of this premortal existence and the plan of salvation, it is easy to see why the Psalmist wrote:

“I have said, Ye are gods; And all of you are children of the most High.”

Now I’m not a biologist, nor do I play one on TV, but even if I had zero belief in this plan of happiness, as far as I can tell, with my earthy mind and senses, it appears that every child has a mother and a father. So. what does that imply about being a child of the most high?

The Apostle Paul weighed in on this too. In Acts 17, he was talking to the Athenians about all of their man-made gods and explained that the Lord was their “unknown god.” He said:

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.”—

And, of course the Savior himself mentioned this himself in John 10. If you remember, the Jews were trying to stone him, but he responded this way:

Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, Ye are gods?’ If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Later, in chapter 17, as part of the great intercessory prayer, Jesus takes this one step further, and prays that those who believe in Him can become one with him and the Father.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Now I know different churches interpret these verses differently that we do, but I choose to interpret these scriptures to mean that we aren’t just symbolic brothers and sisters in the faith, but we are actually the offspring of God. It feels right, doesn’t it?

Therefore, each of us have inherited some of their characteristics, certainly not all of them, and not the perfection of these characteristics, but some of them. Itty-bitty seeds that only grow if we feed and nourish them with the light of truth. Every single one of us has within ourselves those seeds of true greatness. It’s in our divine genes. They might even be declared to you in your patriarchal blessing.

Now even if my assumptions were not true, that we aren’t actually the literal spiritual children of God, if I lived in such a way that I treated everyone as if they were my beloved brother or beloved sister, wouldn’t it make my world a better place?

Now when Jesus was talking to the people of his day, this wasn’t a foreign doctrine to the learned. For example, the Jewish sect, the Essenes, believed in parts of this doctrine of being the literal children of God. The scribes certainly knew about it since all they studied was the written word of the prophets. And the other popular sects, like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Zealots—everyone interpreted scripture differently.

Not unlike today. For example, the scribes believed in sola scriptura—the only truth was the recorded truth as found in their current holy books. To add to those scriptures, or to take away from them, was heresy and blasphemy. They would say, “A bible, a bible, we already have a bible. We don’t need another bible.” They didn’t have ears to hear or eyes to see the living word of God, even as He stood before them.

So when Jesus spoke his most famous “beatitude”  sermon, a sermon which he repeated to the other sheep of his flock, when he came to that phrase, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” I’m positive it excited some, but it also discouraged others.

Why do I say that? Well because with a few exceptions, most people throughout the history of the world have been completely oppressed by unrighteous leaders. As many are today. As Proverbs 29:2 says:

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

And boy howdy, the literal and adopted descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have mourned for thousands of years, and they still mourn today. Everyone wants a Messiah who will overcome their political oppressors and establish peace in the land. Don’t we want the same thing today? Don’t we long for the second coming of our Savior when he will establish the kingdom of God on earth?

Now Jesus could do that, and in fact, will do that in the not too far distant future, but not two thousand years ago. At that point in time—and in our point in time—he wants all of his followers to become peacemakers, not agitators, not warmongers, not muck-rakers, not someone who is itching for a revolution, not someone who criticizes others, and so on.

That’s not what Jesus wants. He wants us to first turn our focus inward rather than outward. Rather than hoping other people would become more righteous, the commandment was that we need to become more righteous, and do everything within our power to make peace.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this means we can’t advocate for war, hatred, viciousness, vile, evil-speaking, vengeance, retaliation, anger, mean-spirited tweets, rants and raves about politicians we don’t agree with—none of those things. Instead, we are to treat others the way they would be treated by Jesus, with love, compassion, forgiveness, and a desire to make peace, both within themselves and within the world they live in.

President Nelson made that perfectly clear when he put a little spin on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He said:

“’If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy’ that we can say about another person—whether to his face or behind her back—that should be our standard of communication.”

Now talk about something that is incredibly difficult to do. Talk about a revolutionary action in today’s world of social media, where you can’t turn to any feed without finding someone ranting or railing or demagoguing or defaming, or even making up stories about other people.

I know I have been guilty of this in the past. In the early years of Twitter, back in 2009, I gathered about 20,000 followers, the third most popular twitterer in Utah, because I would often make jokes or puns. A few of them were about career politicians or entitled cyclists, both of whom tend to push my buttons. But I was wrong for doing that. And I’m trying to repent. And I’ve lost followers in the process, but I would rather lose followers, than lose the opportunity to follow Jesus and be called a child of God.

So if we want to be genuine Christians, and walk the path Jesus walked, we must repent and immediately stop those negative behaviors, and be extremely kind and patient to those who haven’t yet found the courage to improve their own behaviors. You know what, they may never do it, but we can certainly set the example for them with every action we take. If we do that, marvelous things will happen.

I love this statement from the Lord, recorded in D&C 98:22:

“If ye observe to do whatsoever I command you, I, the Lord, will turn away all wrath and indignation from you, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”

And this one:

“Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. … Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

As disciples of Christ, ours is not the option of doubting and fearing. Ours is the opportunity of believing and acting.

When Jesus taught that he came with a sword, this is what he talked about. He’s talking about a sword of truth and judgement, which is His by virtue of his pivotal role in the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Resurrection. He is the only one with enough compassion and love who can separate the sheep from the goats, the believers from the non-believers, the terrestrial from the telestial, the celestial from the terrestrial. He wields the mighty sword of truth, and our willingness to listen and obey the truth, is entirely our choice to make.

One day, at the start of the millennium, he and his holy army will be swinging this sword and send anyone who doesn’t want to live by the truth, to the proverbial corner of the spirit world on a time out, where they, without physical bodies, can think about their bad decisions and decide if that is what they really want for the rest of eternity.

But he hasn’t ever delegated that judgmental authority to any of us, unless one of you happens to be John the Beloved. Only bishops, stake presidents, the seventy, and the apostles and prophets, have been authorized to use, partially, that sword of truth as they help us cut sin out of our lives, repent, and become better followers. And, as Jesus taught on the mount, we need to obey his higher, holier laws until we become perfectly obedient to them—if, and only if, that is something we really want to do.

Therefore, our mission—should we choose to accept it—is to be a peacemaker in every thought, every action, every tweet, every discussion, every lesson, every post, every testimony meeting, every talk we give, every lesson we teach, every reel we post, every cyclist that thwarts our entrance into traffic—anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.

Now what’s in it for us, being this maker of peace? If we try to establish peace, and peacemakers are called the children of God, we are forging an authentic father-child relationship with God.

Now let’s play a little connect-the-dots here, 28 years ago, in the inspired Family Proclamation, those who we believe to have prophetic and apostolic authority, taught that fathers are to preside, provide, and protect their families. Therefore, I think we can safely assume that peacemakers will be entitled to Heavenly Father’s constant guidance, support, and protection as we try to establish peace. He will preside, provide, and protect His children. Now, go back to that proclamation and look at the divine role of motherhood, and you will find other gifts, like nurturance, that we can inherit from our Heavenly Mother. Oh, how we need to nurture one another and patiently help each other grow up to be mature men and women in Christ.

In other words, peacemakers will grow up to become, albeit in a greatly diminished way, like Jesus, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, as He explicitly claimed in His great intercessory prayer at the last supper with His 11 faithful apostles (see John 17). How about THAT for motivation to be a peacemaker? That is why we need to be peacemakers.

Anti-Peacemakers

On the other hand, being a peacemaker is not what the devil wants right now. As he watches palaces of peace—the Lord’s temples—dot the earth, and as he sees hundreds of thousands of people, both living and dead, repent and receive the ordinances of salvation and walk on the covenant path, Old Scratch has decided to ratchet up his offense and strengthen his defense. Because he knows exactly what peacemakers can become, he is bent on taking away every type of peace he can find, including personal and social peace.

The opposite of a peacemaker is someone who causes or encourages conflict. I’m going to call them anti-peacemakers. They may also be called agitators, instigators, disruptors, oppressors, or troublemakers. They are skilled at using tactics and techniques that lead to division and conflict. They believe it is hunky-dory to destroy others in order to become richer or more powerful, and might even enter into secret combinations to ensure that happens. It is entirely anti-Christ.

Now let me give you some ways you can spot anti-peacemakers. Here are some of their weapons:

  • They use inflammatory rhetoric to divide or polarize people.
  • They spread lies and misinformation to sow discord and distrust.
  • They incite violence, vandalism, and other forms of destructive behavior.
  • They disrupt peaceful meetings and gatherings, trying to undermine social cohesion and stability.
  • They seek to create an “us versus them” mentality, where one group or tribe is better or more deserving than others.
  • They bully, harass, oppress, intimidate, or troll people who disagree with them. 

Of course, terrorists, dictators, anarchists, and bullies are easy to spot. If you’re involved in politics, you are likely to spot these behaviors in your political opponents, regardless of your political predilections. But can you spot them within yourself?

I’m going to give you a list of anti-peacemaker characteristics, which we call vices. As I read this list, ask yourself if any of these attributes could be used by others to describe you. As did His original Apostles, do you have the courage to ask the question, “Lord, is it I?”

You might be an anti-peacemaker if in the last month you have been:

  • violent
  • aggressive
  • impulsive
  • arrogant
  • uncooperative
  • destructive
  • hostile
  • belligerent
  • condescending
  • manipulative
  • fearful
  • insecure
  • self-centered
  • ruthless
  • power-hungry
  • quarrelsome

I could go on. There are thousands of negative adjectives that describe an anti-peacemaker. Their actions always have a devastating impact on the lives of others. They want to cause as much spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional harm as possible, until it ultimately destroys individuals, families, communities, and societies.

I once heard that avoiding peace and holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. But with how much contention there is nowadays, it seems like we’re all sipping from the same bitter cup!

Peacemakers

Now let’s move from the dark side to the light side of the force. Let’s talk about the positive qualities of peacemakers.

  • They are calm and patient.
  • They are good at listening to others.
  • They are able to find common ground.
  • They are committed to resolving conflict peacefully.
  • They are compassionate and understanding.
  • They are creative and resourceful.
  • They are resilient and determined.

Of course, the fallen world doesn’t always look upon peacemakers in a favorable light. The worldly may say, “Sure, peacemakers can be all those wonderful things, BUT they also have some negative characteristics, like being too soft, too weak, too naive, too idealistic, too passive, too willing to compromise, too trusting, and too forgiving.”

But I’m not sure that’s the way the Lord sees things. For example, I seem to remember Jesus commanding us to forgive others repeatedly, in fact, 490 times comes to mind. In fact, we are asked to forgive everyone for anything, even your enemies, for whom we pray and seek to bless. We are commanded to love others as Christ loves us, and leave the judgement entirely up to Him. And if we do that, we will become happier, stronger, wiser, more grounded, more assertive, more respected, more discerning, and more forgiving.

In some ways, being a peacemaker is like being a referee in the game of life. You’re not there to take sides, but to make sure everyone plays fair. And let’s be honest, we could all use fewer yellow cards in our relationships.

How to Deal with Conflict

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t avoid conflict, take a bold stand for righteousness’ sake, defend our freedoms, and protect those who cannot defend themselves. That doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us. It also doesn’t mean that when we’re confronted by someone who is itching for a fight that we don’t just put our head in the sand or let them do whatever they want to do. Sometimes we need to be assertive and stand our ground.

Recall that President Nelson said this:

“Now, I am not talking about ‘peace at any price.’” Being a peacemaker does not require us to agree with the ideas or beliefs of others.”

If we look in the scriptures, we see an awful lot of war and bloodshed taking place in almost every book. How Heavenly Father must weep when He sees His children fighting and killing each other, especially if it is motivated out of hatred, anger, or blood thirst.

When the Nephites were trying to be righteous, they often had a good reason to fight. They did not fight to become a world power or dominate others. They wanted to protect their homes, their families, their freedom, and their religion. They believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. In fact, the Lord explicitly counseled them:

“Defend your families even unto bloodshed.”

It is clear from these and other inspired writings that there are times and circumstances when people are justified and have an obligation to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression. Especially if you are a citizen of a nation who is at war with another nation. The prophet Joseph declared that Christians have an obligation to be subject to their kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and honor, obey, and sustain the law. And if your leader requires you to go fight a war, you have an obligation as a good citizen to do so. But, that doesn’t give you license to be unmerciful, unkind, and anti-Christ. As President Hinkley once counseled us:

“When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace.”

When Jesus was among the Jews, they were looking for a Prince of Peace who would free them from the Romans so they could have peace on earth. But then Jesus said this:

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

But he wasn’t talking about a literal sword, he was talking about his calling as a judge to divide and sever those who choose to follow Him and try to be righteous from those who choose to do their own, natural man will. The Doctrine of Christ, the Gospel, penetrates the heart like a sword. This is His right and privilege because He was the one who made salvation and exaltation possible. He was talking about making peace between God and humanity, giving us the chance to be reconciled with our Heavenly family.

Proving Contraries

So here we have two contraries that we need to prove. On one hand we are to be peacemakers and on the other hand we are to defend our God-given rights, and fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.

Brothers and sisters, the only way we can prove this contrary is if the Holy Ghost is our constant companion, who will tell us what we should do. It is the only way we can survive, if not physically, but spiritually. There is no other way.

If we need further help, might I suggest that we look to Jesus for an example of what to do and how to do it.

When Jesus was confronted by the bullies and troublemakers of his day, he courageously faced them and let them express their arguments. But when confronted with lies, deception, and entrapment, he would carefully state the truth and offer some corrective counsel. When asked to choose between two impossible choices, Jesus would often think outside the box and come up with a third choice. He didn’t compromise his principles or his teachings, or back down from a confrontation, but he remained calm and rational, trying to turn the conflict into a learning experience for everyone. There were only two times that we’re aware of, when he took a moment to braid together a whip and use it to separate the profane from the sacred. But in this act too, he didn’t harm anyone, but simply made the temple a more peaceful and sacred place. This is the type of courage and confidence that comes from knowing you are doing what is right and have the approval of God.

But how do we know when to make peace by compromising, or when to stand there and accept the ill treatment, as did the anti-Nephi-Lehis who covenanted to lay down their weapons of war, even if it meant giving up their own lives. And it did, and thousands of husbands and fathers died. But establishing peace could also mean knowing when to defend yourself, as did the now fatherless sons, Helaman’s stripling warriors, who had not made the covenant of non-violence, and went to war to defend not only their widowed mothers and fatherless sisters, but the freedoms of their fellow citizens, many of whom were too obsessed with their riches and way of life to fight.

The key is to be in a position where we can do whatever the Spirit says to do. Sometimes the Spirit may say to compromise, and at other times to give-in, or at others, to boldly stand your ground and speak the truth. Even if the circumstances are nearly identical, only an all-knowing God can identify the perfect response for each specific instance. You see it often changes from time-to-time and from person-to-person. 

However, this implies we are righteous enough to hear His still, small voice. If the only voice we hear is our loud “natural man” voice, which is often angry, defiant, and defensive, then it would be wise to take an immediate timeout and reconnect with God before reacting. From my experience, it appears thirty minutes works well for most people.

Brothers and Sisters, before the Savior returns to this earth in glory, we, his disciples, will experience far more trials and persecutions than we currently face. According to prophets, old and new, there will come a time, when we will be marginalized, isolated, ridiculed, and abused. Right now, we’re in a semi-sweet spot. But Jesus and His followers have always been targeted by the forces of evil. Without exception, whenever the wicked rule, the righteous are persecuted. The blood of the righteous will flow again. The scriptures are clear on this. Those who follow Christ, also carry crosses. But Jesus, having been there and done that, will help us carry our burdens, if we let Him.

How will we handle our current and future trials? How will we act when we are spat upon, despised, shamed, and mocked from those in the large and spacious building? Will we be able to keep peace within ourselves and respond with the quiet dignity and integrity that should prevail among the disciples of Christ?

Whenever I get poked in the eye, my immediate instinct, which is totally driven by the natural man, is to whip out my arsenal of weapons. I have a fondness for debate, sarcasm, condescension, passive-aggressiveness, and snarkiness. Whenever my natural man takes over, which looks a little like Lex Luthor, everyone gets wounded. My own spirit, the spirit of the poker, the spirits of those around me, the Spirit of God himself. Everyone gets hurt. And that’s not good. It scores a point for the devil. It makes me more demonic. And that won’t do at all.

Remember the old saying, ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’? Well, I’m not sure why you’d want to catch flies, but I think the point is clear—being kind and sweet is a better way to handle disagreements than being sour and bitter.

Behaviors of a Peacemaker

Let me quickly give you some action items you can take to be a peacemaker. Here are eight ideas—you won’t find anything new here, but if you want to work on something today, here are a few things to choose from:

  1. Choose to build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire others, especially during difficult situations.
  2. Model respectful and dignified dialogue when managing honest differences of opinion.
  3. Practice humility and charity in your interactions with others, fostering understanding and patience.
  4. In tense situations, remember Jesus Christ and seek the courage and wisdom to say or do what He would.
  5. Lay aside bitterness and any insistence on having things your way, and instead, work towards compromise and understanding.
  6. Refuse to take offense and show tender mercy in your relationships, casting out any influence of the adversary.
  7. Strive to replace belligerence with beseeching, animosity with understanding, and contention with peace.
  8. Regularly attend the temple to receive God’s power and guidance in overcoming contention and Satan’s influence.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that peacemakers are not perfect. We are human beings who make mistakes. However, our positive characteristics should far outweigh our negative ones. Peacemakers are essential for creating a more peaceful world.

Let me close today’s meeting with a poem that tries to summarize President Nelson’s sermon. While I’m not a poet, I am a descendent of a number of poets. I also wrote it while thinking about one of my favorite hymns, In Humility, Our Savior, which is set to the Welsh tune, Hyfrydol. And I, like some of you, have many Welsh ancestors. My intention was that this poem could be sung to that tune. So, with the lyrical and musical abilities of my ancestors coursing through my veins, I call this little poem, “Blessed Peacemakers.”

Blessed Peacemakers

In times of strife and disarray,
Our hearts and minds are led astray,
But as disciples, we must stand,
With open hearts and outstretched hands.
In anger’s storm, let love prevail,
Through Christ’s example, we will not fail,
To lift, encourage, and inspire,
As peacemakers, our hearts on fire.

Blessed are the peacemakers, He said,
Turn the other cheek instead,
Love your enemies, and kindly bless,
Those who curse you in distress.
With charity, our hearts imbued,
Transforming thoughts, our lives renewed,
In every word and action shown,
A true disciple’s love is known.

Contention drives the Spirit far,
A choice we make, to heal or scar,
Choose peace, and let your light shine bright,
Become a beacon in the night.
With love and understanding, build,
The bridges that will mend and yield,
A world transformed by acts of grace,
Where peace and kindness find their place.

Dear brothers, sisters, join as one,
In purpose, with the Holy Son,
To lift the burdened, share the load,
A
nd walk together on His road.
Arise as strong disciples true,
With pure love guiding all we do,
As peacemakers, let us take our stand,
United by His loving hand.

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