A variation of a popular internet meme.
Of all the things Jesus said to the Twelve during the events of the Last Supper, these, to me, are the most profound:
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
I think we often miss how profound, and yet simple that commandment truly is.
My senior year of high school I had seminary once a week, by myself, just me and the teacher, on Wednesday nights at the Church. That year we were studying from The Book of Mormon. Sometimes there were not even any other activities happening Wednesday nights in our ward, and we would be left to do our lessons on the sidewalk outside the church building, having been locked out. It was there on that curb that I fell in love with the prophet Alma, with Captain Moroni, and with the faith of the prophet Mormon. One sunny spring evening, as the year was drawing to a close, it was there on that sidewalk that for the first time I began to understand the prophet Mormon’s words.
“Where for my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail —
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
Seventeen years old, stupid, about to graduate from high school, and sitting uncomfortably on a sidewalk, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and pierced my heart and told me that these words were true. And I felt the fervency and pleading in Mormon’s words that we should pray “with all the energy of heart, that [we] might be filled with this love”. I took Mormon’s counsel to my own heart, and I began asking for charity every morning and every evening in my prayers.
The results were amazing. In a sacred and very real way God allowed me feel His and His Son’s love for others as I prayed sincerely for that gift. And I was surprised at how often I was moved to tears when home teaching, when comforting a friend going through a struggle, or even in the course of daily events. I knew, like I had never known before, that God loves His children.
In the autumn of 2004 Preach My Gospel was released word-wide to all the missionaries in the Church. I was blessed to be part of a test mission for a portion of Preach My Gospel, but nothing had prepared us for the revolutionary tool that came from the Lord and the Brethren. As my companion and I got an advanced copy the weekend before it was given to the rest of our mission, we were told by our mission president to “ingest it and internalize it”, and our hunger was great. Our purposes as messengers of Christ was greatly defined. We were taught how to study, and what to teach in clarity we had never before understood. It was revolutionary. But the section that touched me the most at first were the words from Chapter 6 on developing Christlike attributes. Under the section heading Charity and Love it says this:
“O My Father” by Simon Dewey
“A man once asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36–39).”
Charity is “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). It includes God’s eternal love for all His children. We are to seek to develop that kind of love. When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel.”
Charity is a gift from God. The prophet Mormon said that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:48). As you follow this counsel and strive to do righteous works, your love for all people will increase, especially those among whom you labor. You will come to feel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. You will see them as children of God with the potential of becoming like our Heavenly Father, and you will labor in their behalf. You will avoid negative feelings such as anger, envy, lust, or covetousness. You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them. You will try to understand them and their points of view. You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged. Charity, like faith, leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.”
As I read those words as a full-time missionary I was touched by what the Brethren and the Lord were teaching us to become: Like our Heavenly Father.
Recently I have seen a variety of pictures similar to the one at the beginning of this post. They’re uploaded to popular meme-sharing sites, to Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. And what I have noticed mostly is that they are usually shared by those who are not even believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s as if the nonbelievers of the world are sticking it to the Christians and saying, “Hey look! Jesus told you to love everyone. What y’all’s problem?!”
As there is an ever-increasing shift down the middle of the moral fabric of society in the latter days it will become increasingly important for us as Christians and as Latter-day Saints to truly represent Christ and what He stands for.
It pains me beyond words when I see those who profess to be Christians say things such as, “God hates fags!”, or “All the Muslims are going to Hell.”, or any similar bigoted remarks.
“Really?!” I want to say to them. “Who made you their judge?”
I am not sure what Jesus Christ they are professing to have faith in, but my Jesus Christ taught me that I am not the judge and that I am to love everyone.
As Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane, He, “being in an agony…prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) And as He died on the cross He did so for all of us. Not just Latter-day Saints. Not just other Christians. But for every member of another faith, for every nonbeliever, and for everyone who even hates His holy name.
Jesus Christ loves everyone unconditionally, and as Christians we are to do the same. Often we forget that we’re to love the sinners but hate the sin. Sometimes we let that hate spread out just a little too far…
In closing I would encourage you to take Mormon’s challenge to heart. Ask your Heavenly Father for the gift of charity. Pray for it with all the energy of your heart. And as you come into contact with each every person you meet each day don’t look at them as just another person, but look at them how God might look at them, and as you do so, I promise that your life will change for the better.
Let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.
If you would like to learn more about Charity I would recommend clicking here and clicking on the left side of the page to study from the Scriptures, General Conference addresses, and Church magazines. – If you’ve stumbled upon this site and you’re not a Latter-day Saint please click here to learn more about us crazy Mormons and what we believe.
And just because I love this video so much, I had to share it with you. Enjoy!