Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with too little fanfare last April declared: “Contention is a violation of everything the Savior stood for and taught. … We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring. How can we expect peace to exist in the world when we are not individually seeking peace and harmony?”
Christianity has no business engaging in contention and conflict over foolhardy efforts to reform a corrupt culture, because it has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ’s first priority. Instead, it has everything to do with being diverted by sideshow culture showdowns, deceptively masquerading as faithful fights for God.
Christianity is so fearfully preoccupied with culture conflicts, it is easily distracted from what Christ made perfectly clear is His first priority when He admonished His disciples to: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Unfortunately, in today’s postmodern Christian heart and mind, the essential scriptural vision of the kingdom of God has been relegated to fantasy — fatuous to the learned and sophisticated, who not only no longer seek first the kingdom of God, they no longer pray for it and rarely even speak of it.
Christ’s invocation, “Thy kingdom come,” has effectively been rubbed out of Christian consciousness for something far more secular and politically expedient. What Christ prioritized as first has become irrelevant to Christianity’s obsessive political involvement in conservative culture crusades and progressive social justice advocacy — two heads of the same monster devouring Christianity piece by piece until there is hardly anything left of its soul saving self.
For example, while Christianity is thoroughly fixated on contending for its secular rights, it has become increasingly detached from reverencing the power of its sacred rites, expressly consecrated to spiritually transform hearts and minds to seek truth, love and peace.
Tragically, instead of devotedly focusing its faith on the sacred, for decades, Christians have misguidedly placed their trust in pettifogging political machinations for ill-conceived plots to conquer the corrupt culture. All the while, unwittingly wrecking the nation from the unavoidable disruption and division, and reducing a once flourishing Christianity into a visionless and spiritless shell of itself, converting and retaining fewer and fewer, let alone an entire culture.
Even attempting to arbitrate culture conflicts as a way to secure their secular rights through some elusive political middle way, if ever taken seriously, inevitably exposes Christian would-be arbitrators to rebukes and recriminations from warring parties. Thrusting them into further contention and conflict they either naïvely have not anticipated or quixotically chosen to ignore.
Still, in spite of Christianity’s increasing faithlessness and failures, the kingdom of God must and will, as foretold, rise up as a beacon of light, hope and happiness. Not through scheming plans and alliances with political powers, but by those few allied in holiness, devotedly seeking the kingdom of God first and foremost.
Those spiritually endowed with charity, the power of the pure love of Christ, who are wholly committed to the Prince of Peace, will qualify to faithfully gather under a supernal shield of safety and salvation to complete the building of the kingdom of God on earth, with all others fleeing to it for protection, who refuse to take up the sword of conflict even in the face of persecution and the blows of martyrdom. Then, and only then, will God’s kingdom prevail, having subdued all its enemies under foot.
The truth is, President Nelson’s prophetic call for peace and harmony is the providential pivotal step for the rise of God’s kingdom upon the earth — a kingdom established only by and for people of peace, unified with an eye single to His glory.
Stuart C. Reid, former Army chaplain, former religious rights advocate and lobbyist, former Salt Lake City Council member and former Utah state senator.