3 Nephi 26:17-21
When I read the Christmas story from Luke 2, I prefer to use the translation of verse 14 that makes a slight change in verbiage from “peace on earth, good will toward men” to “on earth peace to men of good will” (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition). The more I study the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the more I am convinced that lasting peace on earth can only be achieved when every person lives the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is exemplified in The Book of Mormon.
Consider what happened in the Americas following Christ’s ministry among the Nephites and Lamanites. The apostles Jesus ordained traveled around, teaching the people, baptizing them and giving the Gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 17). The Church of Christ was organized (v. 21). The apostles and baptized members of the Church “did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them” (v. 20). The people taught and ministered to each other (v. 19). As a result of the spread of the Gospel, the rise of the Church, the people keeping the commandments and ministering to each other, “they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another” (v. 19).
This sounds like peace to me! People living in harmony, sharing generously with each other, loving each other, being just to each other. Jesus teaches people to love, to give freely, to be kind, to think the best of others, to work on personal imperfections and be generous with the imperfections of others, to care for the needs of others, to be just and merciful, to tell the truth, to have good will. If everyone lived this way all the time, we would have peace on earth.
So, rather than wish for peace on earth this Christmas, I’m going to try a little harder to live after the manner of peace and teach my children to do the same.
I used to take pride in being a chameleon. I could walk into rooms without anyone noticing I was there, I could blend in with locals when I traveled out of the country. I kept my head down and tried not to stand out; I felt really safe.
As Alma preached to the people in Zarahemla while setting the Church in order, he admonished the members of the Church, “be ye separate.” In both the Old and New Testaments, the people of God are described as a “peculiar people” (cf. Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18, OT; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9, NT). Modern prophets have continued citing this phrase to describe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think about this sometimes and how God intends for His people to stand out so that others see something different about us and wonder what they might be missing in their own lives.
Backtrack to my mission when one of my companions jaywalked everywhere we went. Late for the tram? Jaywalk to catch it just in time. Need to go to an appointment across this busy road but the nearest crosswalk is minutes away? Jaywalk. When I asked her about this habit, she said, “everyone here does it.” One thing I had learned as a missionary, we were not supposed to do and be like everyone else. We needed to stand out instead and use the crosswalks if for no other reason than nobody else did.
Alma’s admonition to “be ye separate” does not mean to hole away in bunkers until the Second Coming (think of my “chameleon” attitude), completely removing ourselves from society. We are supposed to separate ourselves from sin. We are meant to participate in our communities. But we should be noticeably different in how we present and carry ourselves, how we interact with others (in Christ-like ways), and in our level of honesty and integrity. Standing out can be so uncomfortable but it is becoming increasingly important to do so.