Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Elder Dale G. Renlund on overcoming contention with the love of Christ

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"After the Savior’s visit to the Americas, the people were unified; 'there was no contention in all the land' (4 Ne 1:18).  Do you think that the people were unified because they were all the same, or because they had no differences of opinion? I doubt it. Instead, contention and enmity disappeared because they placed their discipleship of the Savior above all else. Their differences paled in comparison to their shared love of the Savior, and they were united as 'heirs to the kingdom of God' (4 Ne 1:17). The result was that 'there could not be a happier people … who had been created by the hand of God' (4 Ne 1:16).

"Unity requires effort. It develops when we cultivate the love of God in our hearts and we focus on our eternal destiny. We are united by our common, primary identity as children of God and our commitment to the truths of the restored gospel. In turn, our love of God and our discipleship of Jesus Christ generate genuine concern for others. We value the kaleidoscope of others’ characteristics, perspectives, and talents. If we are unable to place our discipleship to Jesus Christ above personal interests and viewpoints, we should reexamine our priorities and change.

"We might be inclined to say,'Of course we can have unity—if only you would agree with me!' A better approach is to ask, 'What can I do to foster unity? How can I respond to help this person draw closer to Christ? What can I do to lessen contention and to build a compassionate and caring Church community?'

"When love of Christ envelops our lives, we approach disagreements with meekness, patience, and kindness. We worry less about our own sensitivities and more about our neighbor’s. We 'seek to moderate and unify.' We do not engage in 'doubtful disputations,' judge those with whom we disagree, or try to cause them to stumble. Instead, we assume that those with whom we disagree are doing the best they can with the life experiences they have."

- Dale G. Renlund, "The Peace of Christ Abolishes Enmity," General Conference October 2021, Sunday morning
Click here to read or watch the full talk

Sadly, we live in a very contentious time. We see anger and bitterness, strong language and violence, all resulting from differences of race, politics, nationalities, sexuality, or any of a large number of beliefs and life approaches. The spirit of contention drives away the spirit of the Lord. We need to learn to control that emotion, to overcome it, to replace it with something better.

That somthing is the love of Christ. Elder Renlund taught that when we focus more diligently on the Savior, the blessings of understanding and unity will follow.

This is a great prophetic call to examine our priorities and ensure we are focused on the things that matter most.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)

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