Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unconditional Love has Converting Power

A talk given recently:

Some time ago I was in the Missionary Training Center preparing to serve God’s children in Argentina. I was thrilled for the opportunity to serve in the same country as my father had done before me. He had loved his mission and the people and the faith building experiences. I grew to love Argentina because of my father. But in the MTC I was surprised that we were being taught to pray with all the energy of our souls to love the people. “Why?” I asked, “wouldn’t that just come naturally?” Don’t I already love them because my father loved them? The next words from my MTC teacher would be repeated in my mind frequently for the next 21 years. He told us that we would need the Lord’s kind of love for these people. They would be of a different culture with different traditions and values than what I had been raised with. I would be teaching them truths that were hard to bare for many of them, but they would listen because they could feel God’s love emanating from me building trust in Him, the Savior, and many of them would want to make the commitments of membership. That day I learned a powerful truth that people will come unto Him more readily if we truly love them with this pure love of Christ, this unconditional love.

Jesus told his disciples opposite of what the world believed was love. He said in Matthew 5:43-44, “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.” Christ’s love is not the same as the world’s love. It may seem much easier to love those who are nice, those who behave well, who are respected, and powerful, and influential. And we should love them, but that is only part of the equation—the easy part. The better part is to love those who do not seem to deserve it. King Benjamin knew that we would be tempted to not practice true unconditional love towards others and he warned us that “The natural man is an enemy to God,” he explained, “and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. . (Mosiah 3:19)
I found in my mission as well as when I became a wife and a mother that unconditional love was a powerful tool in healing hearts and bringing others to Christ.

A marriage that is built on a foundation of unconditional love in the covenant and oath of the Priesthood has the power to overcome the difficulties of this temporal world. Parents who teach and discipline with unconditional love see through the difficulties of childhood and young adulthood and recognize in their children all the gifts and talents the Lord has given them. Parenting becomes more joyful and more meaningful. Individuals who see their neighbors through the glasses of unconditional love will not be offended or angry and will be given the opportunity to lift another rather than condemn.

The disciples of the New Testament together with those of this continent in the Book of Mormon knew the converting power of unconditional love, thus they preached that it was the most desirable gift to possess and encouraged all to pray for it. Paul told us we are nothing if we do not have it. Nephi conversed with the angel who taught him about the tree of life and learned that unconditional love was “the most desirable above all things.” (1 Ne. 11:22) One of the last messages in the Book of Mormon is a discourse from Moroni who pleads with those in the latter days, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God.” (Moro. 7:47–48)

Over two decades have passed since I learned the converting power of unconditional love. It has not been a lesson that has changed me overnight, nor will it, but it has been a journey of learning, stretching and growing. It has been a journey of joy.
I would like to share an experience with you about growth through finding unconditional love for an enemy. Some years ago my mother brought into her home a person who had lost her way. She had joined the church as a young adult, had gone on a mission and had become engaged to a nice active member. When things did not work out as intended, she became sad and lost her way. She turned to the vices that she had known before joining the church and was in this state when my mother took her in. Over the years, I have listened more to the adversary than to the Spirit and began letting judgments on her character build inside me. At times I would repent, but not fully. Had I practiced unconditional love I would have seen who she really was as a child of God. It wasn’t until last summer when President Sagers asked us to clear up any poor relationships in order to be prepared to go to the Twin Falls Temple. Through fasting and prayer I prayed diligently and with all the energy of my heart to have that pure love of Christ. Gradually it came and it seemed that my whole being was transforming, that each cell was rebuilding on this new realm of love. I felt a charity for her that I had never felt before and it continues today and she has responded to me more kindly. I testify that this love converts individuals to Christ; both the giver and the receiver.

This Christmas season will be more meaningful to you and to me as we plead to Heavenly Father for this love; the pure love of Christ. As you do He will bless you with gradual amounts of love and you will feel the power come over you to love even your most troublesome enemy and you will feel your capacity to love grow boundless.

Jesus Christ is the author of love. He lives and loves each of us with unconditional love. It was that love that gave him the omnipotent power to atone for our sins. This is His Church. We are his children. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
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