War and peace

It is a common human failing that we often hang onto the things that we should forget and forget the things that we should remember.

‘Have ye forgotten the commandments of the Lord your God? Yea, have ye forgotten the captivity of our fathers? Have ye forgotten the many times we have been delivered out of the hands of our enemies?’  (Alma 60:20)

Because of this failing it is good that we are prompted from time to time to remember the things that are important. So we have Remembrance Day and poppies and war memorials to help us to remember the sacrifice made for us by millions who never knew us.


Spencer W Kimball wrote: “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of [us] have made covenants … our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day—to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that [we] ‘… may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us].’… ‘Remember’ is the word” (Circles of Exaltation [address to religious educators, Brigham Young University, 28 June 1968], 8).

It is important to remember.

The nights are drawing in now and soon it will be Christmas and we will be ‘remembering’ the angels’ song of Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 In a Christmas message to the Saints during World War 1 the First Presidency said:

“While rejoicing over the birth of the Incomparable One, the light of our gladness is overshadowed with the war clouds that have darkened the skies of Europe, and our songs and salutations of joy and good will are rendered sadly discordant by the thunders of artillery and the groans of the wounded and dying, echoing from afar, but harrowing to our souls as the awful tidings come sounding o’er the sea. Nations rising against nations, brothers against brothers, ‘Christians’ against ‘Christians,’ each invoking the aid of the God of love in their gory strife and claiming fellowship with the Prince of peace! What an awful spectacle is thus presented before the angelic host, a band of whom sang the immortal song of ‘good will toward men’ at the birth of the babe of Bethlehem!”

 Peace is a central part of the Christmas message and a central part of our Remembrance Day thoughts.  We remember the millions of people who have died in wars so that we can have peace.

But what do we mean by peace?

Peace can mean:

  • Freedom from war or violence
  • Public security and order
  • Inner contentment
  • Tranquillity

Is this the peace that the Lord meant when he said:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)?

The Lord promised his disciples ‘peace’ but we know that they went on to experience great trials and tribulations and to suffer martyrdom. In fact, in John chapter 16 the Saviour said to his apostles, ‘In the world you shall have tribulation.’ (John 16:33) This seems to be a very strange kind of peace.

Note,  however, that the Lord speaks about ‘my peace’ – emphasising that his peace is different to the peace that the world offers (and then takes away). In fact Paul tells us in Philipians that God’s peace is so different to the world’s peace that it ‘passeth all understanding’. (Phil 4:7)

So what is this peace that the Lord offers us? Dennis E. Simmons wrote in the May 1997 Ensign:

‘.. even if all the world is crumbling around us, the promised Comforter will provide His peace as a result of true discipleship. Ultimate total peace will come, of course, because He overcame the world. But we can have His peace with us irrespective of the troubles of the world. His peace is that peace, that serenity, that comfort spoken to our hearts and minds by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, as we strive to follow Him and keep His commandments.’

Modern day revelation helps us to understand how we obtain the Lord’s peace:

‘But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and  eternal life in the world to come.’ (D&C 59:23)

‘Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me’ (D&C 19:23).

President Ezra Taft Benson counseled us: “The price of peace is righteousness. Men and nations may loudly proclaim, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there shall be no peace until individuals nurture in their souls those principles of personal purity, integrity, and character which foster the development of peace. Peace cannot be imposed. It must come from the lives and hearts of men. There is no other way.” (Quoted by President Thomas S Monson in First Presidency Message, March 2004).


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