John Taylor, who was the third called prophet in these modern times, saw and experienced so much hatred and persecution in his life that I find these words of his particularly poignant and powerful.
“Love one another,” he encouraged, “and work the works of righteousness, and look after the welfare of all, and seek to promote the happiness of all. That is what God is doing.” He believed strongly in the role of the Spirit in nurturing our love for others. “When you get the Spirit of God,” he taught, “you feel full of kindness, charity, long-suffering, and you are willing all the day long to accord to every man that which you want yourself. You feel disposed all the day long to do unto all men as you would wish them to do unto you.” (Chapter 3: “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 21)
President Taylor was in Carthage Jail by the side of the prophet (Joseph Smith) and the patriarch (Hyrum Smith,) as well as an eyewitness to the assassinations of these righteous men. He took multiple bullets himself and lingered near death for a long time before recovering from the heinous attack. He was driven, along with the other Mormons, from state to state and finally out of the country into the Utah Territory. If anyone had cause to “hate” he’d certainly been given enough ammunition.
And yet, his words do not convey that message:
“David prayed that God would send his enemies to hell quickly [see Psalm 55:15]. Jesus, when he was being crucified, suffering the pain of a cruel death, said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ [Luke 23:34] I like that prayer much better than the other one. … This is the feeling we ought to have. We ought to have it one towards another and treat one another with kindness and not get up hard feelings. … I hear a man say sometimes, ‘I hate such a man.’ Why, I do not know of a person that I hate in the world. The command is to love one another.” (Ibid)
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As always, Jesus Christ is the Exemplar and President
It isn’t easy sometimes to love everyone. People only too often give us reason to not love them. But, if we turn to an eternal perspective and remember who we are . . . we are all children of God, and in so being, are brothers and sisters to one another.
Yes, the Christian is brother to the Muslim. The Hindu is brother to the Buddhist. The Baptist is brother to the Mormon. It all follows, you see, the eternal plan and circle of our heavenly family. And if it is true that our Heavenly Father put us on this earth to learn to be more like Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is, then we know we are to “love thy neighbor,” even those who are half a world away.
God is our Father, we His children, and we all ought to be brethren; we ought to feel and act like brethren, and while we are striving to serve the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength, we ought, at the same time, to seek to love our neighbor as ourselves; we ought to feel interested in his welfare, happiness and prosperity, and in anything and everything that will tend to promote his temporal and eternal good. (Ibid)
Truly, in following the example of Jesus Christ we come to know our Heavenly Father better. He and Jesus Christ are one in heart, purpose and mind although two separate beings. In following His example, that pure love of God fills ours beings and we are able to love others with that godly love instead of the extremely limited, and certainly poor imitation, mortal love.
And so, we cannot defraud our brother if we truly love him, not if we are Christians. We cannot attack our brother if we truly love him, not if we are Christians. We cannot ignore our brother if we truly love him, not if we are Christians. We cannot behave in ways that are contrary to the commandments and gospel of Jesus Christ if we truly love as we are loved by Him. His gospel allows us to develop this godly love and to touch other lives for the better. We forgive where we would hate. We love where love has never been felt. We become disciples of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, stand as emissaries of the Living God who redeemed the world.
During this season, indeed this season of seasons, let us look to the heavens and allow that godly light to touch our hearts that we may look out at the world with new eyes. In doing so, our love for our fellow man will increase and in this climate, the gospel of Jesus Christ can spread across the world to every corner of every land.
If men, by taking a wrong course, act imprudently and seek to injure us, shall we seek to injure them? No, we will try to do them all the good we can. “But that is not natural.” But then we ought to be changed from nature to grace. Jesus stated, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” etc. [Matthew 5:43–44.] When you have done all that and met all the requirements of the law, what more can be asked of you? Nothing. …
… If there be trouble existing between me and anybody else, I would meet them half way, yes, I would meet them three quarters or even all of the way. I would feel like yielding; I would say, I do not want to quarrel, I want to be a Saint. I have set out for purity, virtue, brotherhood, and for obedience to the laws of God on earth, and for thrones and principalities and dominions in the eternal worlds, and I will not allow such paltry affairs to interfere with my prospects. I am for life, eternal lives and eternal exaltations in the kingdom of God. (Ibid)