Fidelity to God, Loyalty to Country, Charity for All…
“Although I am not always as reverent a person as I should be, I have long reverenced the sacred writ of holy scripture and the inspired founding documents of our nation. Nevertheless I find it troubling that many claiming absolute fidelity to religious sect or unquestioning loyalty to political party or cause, often do not show that same fidelity and loyalty to the saving truths found in Scripture or liberty assuring principles described in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. It is neither just nor merciful that in seeking to secure rights or privilege for one’s preferred special interest, or saving grace for self or friends, one should do so at the expense of liberty for fellow citizens or salvation for other children of God. Charity, even in religion and politics, the pure love of Christ, the love and well being of our fellow man, should always prevail.”Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 2 September 2023
It is wonderful to be an individual, to have our own likes and preferences, to have the freedom and gift to find joy where we find it. It is that same freedom to have dislikes and find discomfort and distaste in things that sometimes creates prejudice and disunity. In the big picture, we are not so different from one another. We rise each day in grateful prayer, and fight for our survival in whatever fashion is appropriate to protect ourselves and our families and friends. When night falls we kneel again, praying for protection for the same as we enter the hours of vulnerability in sleep. Outside of our likes and dislikes, we are not so different, but we often let our preferences create rifts and schisms that promote disharmony. As we follow the Savior Jesus Christ, and seek to serve Him in our families and communities, especially by serving one-another and setting aside silly and worldly differences, we find true harmony and unity in Christ.
I, like you, have observed a lot of differences in my lifetime and have involved myself in debates on the same. The older I have grown the more apparent it has become to me, that outside of the laws of God and His church, and our true faith, most of our differences are simply preferences, and therefore silly to argue about. Although debate can be healthy and even entertaining, when it leads to anger, disharmony and hurt feelings, our unity is sacrificed and there is no good in it.
I remember shortly after buying my first computer in 1991, which happened to be an Apple computer, some of my friends had a real hard time accepting that mine was a real computer. I have to be honest, I could not figure out why the brand of my computer really mattered and even seemed to cause offense. I just needed it to run my business. There was no personal attachment for me, only a choice of hardware and software compatible for desktop publishing.
How about choices in automobile preferences? I have seen people argue about what kind of car or truck is better, to the point of becoming bitter. Honestly, I do not get it. Over the years I have driven pickups produced by Ford, Datsun, Toyota, Chevy and Dodge. While I have my own preference, that does not mean my choice is what should be preferred by all.
When my eldest sons were little, one of them liked bananas and one did not. The one that disliked bananas subjected the other to a level of ridicule to the point that the younger would hide under the table when he ate bananas. They were little children before any age of accountability, so to an extent I can excuse the behavior, but how silly is that? Thankfully, they do not engage in that kind of behavior as adults.
Of course little children are expected to be silly, so why are adults so silly? Yes, we have our preferences in food, but is it necessary that we call disgusting what someone is eating or drinking that we do not prefer? I have seen people get emotional over observing someone eating a vegetable, a temperature of meat (which I have been guilty of), or even drinking a chocolate milk brand that one does not prefer. Why not just let meat eaters eat meat, and vegetable eaters eat vegetables, prepared the way they like it? While I may want to eat my gluten, I should be happy that gluten-free is available to those who need or desire it? If I want to eat ice cream from a round or oval container do I have more or less taste than he who eats it from a square container?
I recall listening to youth arguing about what is a sport and what is not. We should just be happy for somebody who is participating in something regardless of whether we consider it a sport. Let us be happy for someone when they excel in something at which we are not so good, or at least less good than they. Why are we so unkind as to not think of our brother’s and sister’s feelings when we take on stances that are not based in anything of eternal worth, but simply personal preference.
I hesitate to discuss politics, because this is a point of great dispute and discontent among our people, but I have one thing to say: While there may be issues and positions that tread into areas where I am sure the God of Heaven and Earth is concerned, as near as I can tell from my reading of the entire canon of scripture and sources of modern revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ does not typically throw support toward nor endorse any party or candidate over another. While virtue may be found by some in one party or candidate, virtue may also be found by some in the other, and we need to respect that. It is our responsibility to participate and vote, but we should not have ugly feelings toward people, especially among followers of Christ, over whom they choose to vote for with their own consciences and understandings. Among the the Lord’s people love and understanding should always prevail, even in politics. Anything else is inexcusable.
“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”
President Abraham Lincoln
Referencing the two warring sides of America’s great Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address stated, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.”
It is time that we stop our silly and unkind judgments and we unify in Christ. President Lincoln was right, it is strange, certainly to God, when we seek mercy, forgiveness and kindness from Him, yet we offer none of the same to our fellow man, sometimes not even our fellow Christians and members of our own families. Certainly, some offend us, but have we not committed offense against our Heavenly Father? Have we not at times sought to hoard the heavenly gift of redemption and deny it to our brothers and sisters who have committed some kind of error or offense in our eyes? These matters are only for God to decide, for our judgment is weak and without understanding.
The Apostle Paul taught us that we need one another, that we are “baptized into one body” (1 Corinthinians 12:13). Shall we not unify in such a cause to bring the children of God into one fold to follow our shepherd Jesus Christ? Yes, we must. We cannot do it alone. We should not unrighteously judge one another for the amount of effort that we are giving, for only God knows our capacity to give. But, we all must give, we all must do our best. Remember, He knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and He knows our hypocrisies. We would best set our personal judgments aside and work together regardless in the building up of God’s kingdom, and certainly not tear down His children to satisfy our own personal pride or even vengeance. We need each other, I know that I need you. I cannot do all that needs to be done without the aid of my brothers and sisters, for this is the way our Heavenly Father wants it to be. He wants us to be unified in the building of His kingdom. He wants us to be unified in Christ.
In my mind there is no doubt of the inspiration of those first three words contained in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “We the People….” The traditional motto of the United States: “E pluribus unum” – “Out of many, one,” is a providential declaration much the same, that we are united as a people, in purpose and cause, and should always be in pursuit of the common good and well-being, partakers together in our fortunes and struggles.
As the Apostle Paul taught, “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17). Let us all gather together in fasting and prayer and partake of the one bread as one body, renewing our covenants, and be united in following the Savior and partaking of His redeeming gift, His saving love, charity, the pure love of Christ. For “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8).
May God be with us. May we be kind. May we be less silly. May we serve together in unity. May we be as His love bore us to be. May we have charity. This is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.