In Ephesians we read: “For he is our peace, who hath made one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” The wall was broken down through the Savior’s atonement, bringing mankind the potential for peace, “having abolished in his flesh the enmity that separates us.” (Ephesians 2:14-15)
Jesus Christ’s life and sacrifice for us truly removed the “enmity” or hatred that too often exists as we find ourselves locked in contentious and divisive posturing. If we can keep our eyes on Him and His plan for us, disagreements may not disappear, but they will become so much less important, and we can actually become unified because of our common gratitude for His atoning sacrifice.
I have several times had the blessed opportunity to visit Israel, and was privileged to be on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. This is the same location where subsequent to the Savior’s resurrection, Peter and other disciples fished all night without success (John 21:3). In the morning of the next day, they saw a man standing on the shore who suggested that they cast their net on the other side of the boat. To their astonishment, the net was filled miraculously (John 21:11). John tells us that they immediately recognized that he was the Lord, and as John reports, “when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas, “lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15)
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As we consider the question asked of Peter and make application to our own personal lives, we must ask ourselves if the Lord will someday ask us about how busy we were with the number of “fish we catch” or generally with the things of the world. And, perhaps how in dealing with occasional “worldly things,” including conflict and disagreements, we allow such “things” greater place in our hearts and in our attention than our worship of Him and His place in our lives.
It seems to me that when we allow contention and worldly things to expunge the Lord from our primary focus and attention as our highest priority, we lose the opportunity for peace and calm in our lives, as well as we lose the opportunity to become unified in our most important beliefs. Do the things of the world bring us the joy, happiness and peace that the Savior offered to His disciples and that He offers to us today? I believe that only He can bring us true joy, happiness, and peace through our loving Him and following His teachings.
One of the twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once said:
“At my age, I have attended many funerals. I am confident that you have noticed as have I that when celebrating the life of a deceased family member or a friend, it is rare for the speaker to talk about the size of a person’s home, number of cars, his/her bank account balances, or political beliefs. They also don’t speak about social media posts. Rather, they focus on their loved one’s relationships, service to others, life lessons and experiences, and their love for Jesus Christ.” (M. Russell Ballard, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles)
The question for us is are we ready to allow our relationships with God, with Jesus Christ, and with each other answer the question “lovest thou these more than me” as did Peter with a resounding, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:15). And, then demonstrate that love by serving God and all those around us, and by not allowing the “enmity” that comes with contention and disagreements to keep us from the joy of peace and unity.
Dr. David E. Brown is regional Director of Public Affairs but was formerly the President of the Napa Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes 10 congregations — four in Napa, one in St. Helena, one in Sonoma, two in Vallejo, and two in Benicia.