Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sermon: Tolerance

Brothers and sisters it is an honour to be able to speak to you today. To all those that are here and also throughout the world. Today I wish to speak with you on a subject I have had to learn about a lot this last week, tolerance! It seems that with suffering with ill health from time to time, I find that I want to do a whole lot of things, but I can't, I have had to learn a lot about tolerance. I have had to learn that tolerance is a virtue that we need in our very turbulent world, a world filled with great chaos and strife, war and violence, and all manner of things which are trying our faith left, right and centre. However, at the same time, we must also realise and spot that there is a difference between tolerance and tolerate. Just because you may have tolerance toward someone or something, does not grant whatever it is or whoever they are the right to do wrong, nor does it obligate you to tolerate any misdeeds which have taken place. It is therefore fundamental that as Latter Day Mormons, we need to understand this vital virtue, the very virtue of tolerance!
Jesus Christ gave us two great commandments, the highest objectives in this mortal life are summed up in the two greatest commandments, two commandments which have never before been fully realised by hardly anyone. But, if we are to understand tolerance, we must also understand what these two great commandments are, we must also understand the reality of living these in our own personal lives. These two great commandments of which I speak are, loving God the Father and also loving our neighbours, those around us, when we do this then we take on a whole new outlook on things. When we love both the Father and our fellowmen, we take on a whole new recognition of our own lives, understanding that we are not free to do just what we want, but rather, that we must live our lives showing gratitude, honour, and respect. We need to be obedient to both of these commandments, which means that when we are obedient to both of these commandments, then we are also obedient to all the fundamental laws of the Gospel. But, it also means, just as Mosiah had summed up, that when we are serving others, we also are in the service of our God.
The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ reaches out to all backgrounds. We have been asked by the Saviour to reach out to all nations as told to us in the holy scriptures when it says "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world. Amen"  (Matthew 28:18-19)
It is our mission therefore to go and to baptise all nations, teaching them to keep His commandments. With that comes an additional need for tolerance. This means that we are reaching beyond our own borders, we are literally reaching hands across borders in fellowship and in love. One of the hardest things that may come about when we are doing this is to learn to love those who live in other lands that we might have considered being enemies to our own people in our own nations. But, rather than looking at it like this, we need to look at it in terms that they are a part of our own people, the human race. The real understanding of the two great commandments can only come when we learn to have tolerance for those not of our own home land. When we learn to have tolerance for those of other nationalities, when we learn to have tolerance and love toward those who perhaps in Muslim nations, we then learn that we can have great concern for them having tolerance for them, while not tolerating their beliefs, we have great tolerance for them, great compassion for them, and we want to help them and to fellowship them just as anyone who has not before had a chance to hear the restoration. Indeed we need to show that our tolerance is greater than there's, for we say to the world today to join with Christ of you own free will, gone are the days when men of the west say convert or die, for this is not the way of the Father or the Son, but the one whom was cast down.  It is for this reason that intolerance of other nations and people is one reason why we have wars and conflicts which take place all around the globe, indeed much of the conflict in the Middle East today is because one set of people are showing total intolerance for others. The situation that is effect throughout the world has nothing to do with religion but intolerance. We know that humanity is in the grip of something which it needs to strive to come out from under, but it will not be the case until the nations learn that intolerance is nit the answer and to look for the time when Jesus Christ returns. But for us, as children of the Father and followers of the Christ we can learn tolerance for other nations. In our walk along the path of life we may come into contact with those people that do not share the same beliefs as ourselves, does this mean that we have no responsibility toward them? No, rather it means that we should still show love towards them, that we should still have great tolerance for them and show them the love of God, to educate them in the role and life of the Saviour for the sake of their own redemption, and in doing so we share with them the truth of the Restored Gospel and what is holds for them. Then if they desire baptism, we take them down into the waters of baptism and give them the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
There are risks with tolerance, this may sound silly but let me offer some more important information on the side of caution. There is an assumption amongst many people that says, that if a little of something is okay, then a lot of something must be even better, but, this is not always so! For example, why would one take a prescription medicine that might help to relieve their earache and because it has helped that earache, take even more, so much so that they have overdosed? Mercy can also oppose justice, so then, tolerance with limit can also lead to giving permission for things to go too far. So with this, we might want to just take a look at how much tolerance we should afford, especially if we have been wronged numerous times. Remember that while we have tolerance, it does not mean that we have to continue being wronged. The Lord has drawn boundary lines upon tolerance. Just as in the early history of the Church in this dispensation, the Lord has drawn lines with how long the Saints stayed in an area in the midst of great persecution. So the Lord from time to time made provisions for the Saints to move around, an event which was symbolised in the Bible by the forty years in the desert of ancient Israel.  Just as we as parents, no matter how old or young we teach our own children not to do certain things, if you are parents to younger children it might be not to run and play in the street. Our Father through his Son our Saviour Himself has taught us to not tolerate evil. “Jesus went into the temple of God, and overthrew the table of the moneychangers” (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15) Though He has great love for the sinner, the Father cannot at all look upon sin with the least degree of allowance hence the need for a Saviour. Real love means that we may compel courageous confrontations, not acquiescence! Real love in no way supports self-destructing behaviour which only leads toward more damage, therefore, we must be responsible in what we do.
Tolerance Demands Mutual Respect. In our desire to commit to the Saviour, we must scorn sin, yet while scorning sin, we love those around us. For example, since the attacks on the world trade centre and the London underground and the continued unrest we find ourselves in today with many of the Muslim nations within the Middle East there are those who have  began showing great hatred and still do and this anger is turned towards their Muslim neighbours. They hate them with a passion for the terrorist attacks, for the murder and the bloodshed that many belonging to this religion have spawned and are still indeed spawning all over the world. Let it be clear that while we can hate what took place and what is still taking place, we should never forget that we should love all men and that includes Muslims. Does it mean that those terrorist attacks represented Muslims or Islam as a whole? Of course not, so therefore, we should love them as our own neighbours, we may not agree with their beliefs, indeed we do not, we may not agree with the way they choose to live and we may have massive cultural and religious differences, indeed we have, but in the grand scheme of things we are all children of God and we are all living together on this planet which has to be tended, subdued, and shared with gratitude. We are all children of our Heavenly Father. Each one of us is able to help make this world a more pleasant experience if we only work at it together, therefore, we should never let the sin of our natural man stand in the way of loving those whom we might think are our enemies, just because a few are standing as the enemy. It is morally unacceptable for us as Latter Day Mormons to deny anyone or any group their dignity on the tragic and abhorrent theory of racial and or cultural superiority, for we are not better than they, we are but equal with them. Therefore, I urge the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ to recommit themselves to the time-honoured ideals of true tolerance and mutual respect that should be afforded everyone. We acknowledge that there are more people than us and that they come from differing backgrounds, cultures, and races and although we know that the gospel of Christ restored is his plan for us and none other , we should however have great tolerance for them, desiring to live in peace and coexist together until The Lord Jesus Christ should return and bring all people under His rule to know truth.
Remember that we the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ have been wronged, many times, indeed we continue to be wronged by many people and we know that that feeling is not nice nor is it something that we wish to export to anyone, so therefore, let us reach a hand of fellowship and love toward others who are different from us. Let us carry this on in our messages of hope and love toward all people, that they might see that the Lord’s church is not a church which hates, but a church that loves, a church of  peace and tolerance. To this end, I leave these words with each of you. Amen.
Prophet Matthew P. Gill

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