I’m one of the Gospel Doctrine teachers in my ward. It’s a calling l love, but am terrified of all at the same time. Teaching the gospel to adults is very hard, especially when I feel like I’m the least experienced in the room. But it’s good to feel inadequate sometimes. It pushes me to rely on the Lord a lot more to do my calling the right way.
This year’s course of study has been The Book of Mormon and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Over the last few weeks as we’ve wound our way thru the chapters in the Book of Alma and Helaman there are stark patterns that emerge that parallel our day. Some people call it “The Pride Cycle”, but basically it’s the story of the human condition since the beginning of time. People are good, they are blessed, then become prideful and wicked. They fall, and become enslaved – either to their own vice and are destroyed , or are literally taken away as slaves to be humbled. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes the cycle repeats itself several times in the course of a year.
Right before the Savior’s visit to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, this cycle becomes particularly vicious, with the people dividing themselves up into tribes and with the Gadianton Robbers bearing down on everyone they can. At the death of the Savior, the land is broken up, there is great destruction and the Nephite civilization is destroyed, with “the more righteous part” of the people being left to pick up the pieces and start over.
In 3 Nephi, after the Savior comes and introduces himself and teaches the people His doctrine (faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost), he also warns the people in verses 29-30,
“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”
I don’t know about you, but right now, I feel like we are full of contention as a people. Not just as Latter-day Saints, but as Americans in general. (Thank you presidential election). I think it was quite timely that this scripture was a prominent part of the Gospel Doctrine lesson yesterday in our ward.
“For he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil…” Those are powerful words! So very powerful!
The Nephite nation was destroyed because of contention. They could not, or would not, get along with each other. We are destroying ourselves as a nation, just like “those Nephites of old”, because we cannot or will not get along with each other. Is fighting over which train wreck we want to be our leader really worth it? The answer is no. The Lord does not care who wins the election. The Lord does not care who you vote for either. And you’re not going to change any minds or hearts by rude posting on Facebook about it either, so stop it! As we have been recently counseled by the Bretheren, “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”
What the Lord wants us to do is to stop fighting. He wants us to come unto him, to seek his peace and rest and to rely on him. He wants us to keep His commandments and share them with others. That means you might have to bite your tongue a lot until November 9th (the blessed day after!), but you can do it. You should do it, I promise it will make you feel better. It will make all of us feel better.
On a personal note about 3 Nephi 11: 29, my sister wrote that scripture out on a piece of paper with a red Sharpie and hung it up in the bathroom we shared as kids. There were four of us, and as you can imagine, fighting was common in that bathroom getting ready for school every morning. It was hard to fight, though, with the words of the Savior staring us in the face about not fighting. That sign hung in our bathroom, at least 20 years, and long after the four of us had moved out of our parent’s house. It only came down when Mom decided to renovate. That scripture is powerful for me, it’s something that I’ve tried to live by, but especially this last year.
Resolve today, that this week in your social media interactions that you will not contend with others, and that you will spread good tidings, positive messages and happiness to your circle of friends. Do away with things that cause you to contend, to fight, to bicker and to be miserable. If you need help, ask Heavenly Father in prayer, because He’s wants you to do this, He’s there to help. And if all else fails, write the scripture down and stick it where you will see it often.