Everywhere you go, every newspaper and Magazine, on TV, movies, and videos, violence surrounds us. Intolerance and hate seem to be the rule, not the exception, in this day of mass communication and instant gratification. What seemed to be seen only in movies, is now in our neighborhoods. The war zones of Normandy, Korea, and Vietnam have moved to our cities and towns. Where war was once limited and distant, it is now on nearly every continent and in our living rooms through the modern convenience of television. The violent acts of children and teens are no longer rare, but fearfully becoming more common place. It appears that the concept of self image has become the concept of selfishness. Fellow human beings have become objects, obstacles on the path to feeling good about themselves.
The earth itself seems to be joining in the violence of the day with an increase of earthquakes, fire, and weather related destruction. Central America has seen great destruction over the last year. Floods in China and drought in Africa are examples of the extremes of nature. Even the center of Mormondom in Salt Lake City is not exempt from nature’s fury. The tornado in the summer of 1999 reminded us all just how violent a world we live in, and just how fragile life really is. At times it feels that all the “earth is filled with violence” and wickedness.
The prophet Noah lived in a wicked and violent time. We read, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. . . . And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:11, 13) And again we read, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). We come to understand from the scriptures and from history that, as a nation and people become wicked, violence increases. Violence appears to be a gage that measures the wickedness of mankind.
In the last days, we recognize violence as a sign of the times. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39). The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, “The hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:35).
Among the cries against violence and hate, we seek to remind the world of who the author of peace is. The Psalmist declared, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints” (Psalms 85:8). While the world seeks peace through diplomatic relationships and studies the faces of violence for answers, we learn the source of peace from the author of peace Himself, “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).
Some might say the peace found in the gospel is a simplistic approach to what ails the earth and her people. To the skeptic, we declare the gospel is the answer. We have recorded history that teaches us that “the people were all converted unto the Lord . . . and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. . . . And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 1:2-3, 15-16).
The heart of a Saint cries out for such peace. It longs for the safety of Zion. It hopes for a better world. This longing moves members of the Church in a wonderful way. The humanitarian efforts of the Church are growing and becoming better known throughout the world. Service, like that performed within hours of the tornado in Salt Lake, is becoming more common place. The cry for peace moves 60,000 young men, young women, and retired couples to leave the comforts of home and serve their Father in Heaven as the largest single force for peace in the world. They are fulfilling the words of the Apostle Paul, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:15).
While the world reels in the violence of wickedness, each member of the Church and Kingdom of God can become examples of peace to the world. By becoming Saints through the enticings of the Spirit of God (Mosiah 3:19), we become beacons of hope, part of the solution, and instruments for good in the hands of the Lord. In the process, we take part in the salvation of the Savior and through Him become new beings, born again, filled with the Spirit and love for our fellow men. For Paul declared, “. . . to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). There is a true inner peace that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. This inner peace comes from knowing who we really are and having a personal relationship with the Savior. It is not “as the world giveth,” but only comes from the Prince of Peace, the Savior of mankind. We should strive and ask for this peace in our lives.
However, the inner peace of the Savior does not stop the storms around us for we know and expect the world to ripen for destruction “as in the days of Noah.” But just as the Salt Lake Temple withstood the power of a tornado with little damage, so the peace of the Savior can help us withstand the wickedness of the world with minor injuries. Righteousness does not guarantee earthly deliverance as history has proven, but “should we die before our journey’s through, happy day, all is well” in the peace of the Savior. “He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
May the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ fill your life, your heart, your mind, and your home. May the violence of the world leave you and your family unscathed. And may we “lift an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:39), that Jesus Christ is the giver of peace, and his gospel has been restored in these latter days for all those who are true seekers of peace.