Peace the Message of the Church
by President David O. McKay. Conference Report October 1938.
The future and permanency of the work is assured so long as the Priesthood will keep in mind the great mission of the Church. It is truly a messenger of peace. When Christ came to the earth his advent was heralded by an angelic chorus singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” This message has been repeated so often that it seems trite, and, yet, if peace and brotherhood could even be approximated, it would prove the greatest boon that could come to humanity.
Since time began men have kept the world in turmoil with their useless strivings, their bickerings, and their contentions. There is an old, old story told that a man from another planet was permitted to visit the earth. From an eminence he looked down upon the bustling cities of the world. Millions of men, like ants, were busy building palaces of pleasure, and other things that would not last; chasing will-o’-the-wisps and seeking financial bubbles that burst before their eyes. As he left to go back he said: “All these people are spending their time in building just bird’s nests; no wonder they fail and are ashamed.”
The peace of Christ does not come by seeking the superficial things of life, neither does it come except as it springs from the individual’s heart. Jesus said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Thus the Son of Man as the executor of his own will and testament gave to his disciples and to mankind the “first of all human blessings.” It was a bequest conditioned upon obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is thus bequeathed to each individual. No man is at peace with himself or his God who is untrue to his better self, who transgresses the law of right either in dealing with himself by indulging in passion, in appetite, yielding to temptations against his accusing conscience, or in dealing with his fellowmen, being untrue to their trust. Peace does not come to the transgressor of law; peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us proclaim among men.
If we would have peace as individuals, we must supplant enmity with forbearance, which means to refrain or abstain from finding fault or from condemning others. “It is a noble thing to be charitable with the failings and weaknesses of a friend; to bury his weaknesses in silence, but to proclaim his virtues from the house tops.” We shall have power to do this if we really cherish in our hearts the ideals of Christ, who said:
If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Note the Savior did not say if you have ought against him, but if you find that another has ought against you. How many of us are ready to come up to that standard? If we are, we shall find peace. Many of us, however, instead of following this admonition, nurse our ill-will until it grows to hatred, then this hatred expresses itself in fault-finding and even slander, “whose whisper over the world’s diameter as level as a cannon to its mouth, transports its poison shot.” Back-biting, fault-finding, are weeds of society that should be constantly eradicated. Gossip, too, brings discord and thrives best in superficial minds, as fungi grows best on weakened plants, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” but do not add to those burdens by gossiping about your neighbors or by Spreading slander. Diogenes was asked one day to name that beast, the bite of which is the most dangerous. The old philosopher replied: “Of tame beasts, the bite of the flatterer; of wild beasts, that of the slanderer.”
During the approaching political campaign let us refrain from making personal attacks and from hurling slanderous abuse, and thus avoid injuring one another’s feelings, and after election have fewer regrets and heartaches.
Christ’s Plan Gives Free Agency
If the world would be at peace it must supplant the rule of force by the rule of love. The scriptures tell us that in the beginning Satan proffered to force all men into subjection to the will of God. By compulsion he would save every person, and for so doing he asked that the honor and the glory that are the Lord’s should be his.
There is an example of dictatorship supreme!
In contrast to this, Christ’s plan was to give men their free agency.
To every man, says Joseph Smith, is given an inherent power to do right or to do wrong. In this he has his free agency. He may choose the right and obtain salvation, or he may choose evil and merit abomination.
A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others. That is the spirit of true democracy, and all government by the Priesthood should be actuated by that same high motive. We are told,
The rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.
Where Peace Is Found
Peace is not found in selfishness, but in striving to help make the world better and happier.
“There was a time when I was happy,” said Browning’s Parcelsus.
“When was that?” asked his friend Festus.
The old philosopher answered: “When, but the time I vowed myself to man.”
And then Festus said: “Great God, thy judgments are inscrutable.”
Then Parcelsus continued: “There is an answer to the passionate longings of the heart for fullness and I knew it, and the answer is this: Live in all things outside yourself by love, and you will have joy. That is the life of God: it ought to be our life. In him it is accomplished and perfect; but in all created things it is a lesson learned slowly and through difficulty.”
Finally, the perfect peace comes to the individual who has a testimony of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the greatest blessing, brethren and sisters; all else may be sacrificed rather than that. If you would have it then follow the words of the Savior: “He that will do the will of my Father which is in Heaven shall know of the doctrine whether it is of God, or whether I speak of myself .”
How different the peace of God from that of the world! It calms the passions, preserves the purity of conscience, is inseparable from righteousness, unites us to God, and strengthens us against temptation. The peace of the soul consists in an absolute resignation to the will of God.
The way to peace for individuals and nations is to have “the Kingdom of God within you.”
May peace come to each of us, and to the whole world. I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.