- When two of His apostles requested privileged status in the next life, the other ten apostles were angry. Jesus called them all together and taught them that their bad feelings were based on inaccurate understanding of their situation: “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Mark 10:35-45).
- On another occasion, his apostles were debating which of them was the greatest. Jesus showed them a small child and said, “He that is least among you all, the same shall be great” (Luke 9:48).
- When the citizens of a city treated Jesus rudely, two of His apostles proposed that they call down fire from heaven to destroy the city. Jesus responded, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).
- In His final prayer with His apostles, He pleaded that all of His followers might be one, “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21).
Following His death and resurrection, when He visited a large group of people on the American continent, He also pleaded with them to live peacefully with one other. Three years earlier, their government had collapsed, and they had separated into tribes (3 Nephi 7:2). Now, as He stood in their presence, He taught them how to baptize. Why? Because that doctrine had apparently been a source of conflict among them:
On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you…
And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.3 Nephi 11:22, 28
And then He taught them the core principle:
He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.3 Nephi 11:29-30
He further emphasized this point by repeatedly affirming the unity of the Godhead: “The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one” (3 Nephi 11:27).
What is the message for us? In a troubled world, with harsh and hateful invective all around, true disciples of Jesus Christ work to reduce division and barriers between people. We don’t have to always agree with each other in order to work together for a common cause, but we do have to value each other as human beings—as children of God. We have to care more about the well being of others than we care about our egos. We have to rise above petty feelings of defensiveness and hostility and remember that there is a better way: serving others with humility, finding ways to lift them up, laboring diligently to cultivate peace.
Today, I will be a peacemaker. I will find ways to connect with other people and to work together in unity. I will remember that the spirit of contention is not of God, and that we grow closer to Him as we live in peace and in harmony with one another.