In my Scripture study the other day, Jesus’ statement, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” [Matthew 7:12], brought the bygone incident I describe below to mind with incredible intensity. It is a shame that so many critics of the Church seem to have purged this verse in the Sermon on the Mount from their Bibles–and this is a very sad thing. Dates and other information are obscured here, to protect the guilty and the innocent.
Some time ago, a non-member child was tragically killed. While other area Churches offered their facilities for a fee, a neighbouring LDS bishop offered–for free–the use of a nearby LDS meeting house for the funeral. After the post-graveyard service, local members served a meal for the family and friends of the deceased–again, without charge. This is our way, and I’m glad of it.
Unfortunately, the child’s Pastor appeared to be not as glad about this gift as I am. At first, this man refused to preach the funeral in the meeting house, but later relented. Upon entering the meeting house, this individual behaved much as a boorish guest: Without permission, he and his staff tore down the Ward bulletin board and portraits of LDS leaders and Temples–anything that would show whose building it is. He demanded that the sign identifying the Church be obscured. He cast out the missionaries and other members of the Church who were there to help set up for the funeral and meal–because they were “Mormons.” And, as an added insult, he confined the bishop to the foyer, away from the funeral–even though he was a friend and neighbour to the deceased and his family, and he provided the use of the building–free of charge.
Incidentally, I am NOT a member of this bishop’s Ward. The only reason I know of this is that my bishop [who was the other bishop’s friend], knowing that my work took me only a short distance from this meeting house, called me on my cell phone, and asked me to assist in whatever way I could. I arrived rather late, and, after regathering the scattered members, helped clean the place up as much as possible.
Undoubtedly, non-members do much good in this world; bringing people to Jesus Christ, as this non-LDS Pastor had done, is truly a wonderful thing! I find it very hard, though, to reconcile mistreating others, vandalising their property, and other acts of hate, with the Christian love he and other critics of the Church claim to possess.
Since then, I have had much time to reflect upon what I would have done if I were in that bishop’s position. I think I could truthfully say that, even knowing that this non-LDS Pastor would act so rudely, I, too would have offered the use of the meeting house. I thank God that I was able to join with my siblings in Christ to give some comfort to the family and friends of this young boy, and this is worth all of the abuse our enemies can heap upon us.
As the Saviour commanded, “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” [Matthew 5:44]. While I’m hardly expert at this, both God and Satan give me plenty of opportunity to practise! 😉
I might, however, have tried to do more to protect my siblings in Christ and the Lord’s property.