My heart has been aching over the recent events that have caused divisions in the world today. I have felt hurt, saddened, and disappointed. As I was praying and pondering, I was impacted while reading the story of Ammon in Alma chapter 17. It seemed so relevant to what’s going on in the world today, and it really taught me something about our current struggles with charity and loving all humankind.
Ammon was a Nephite, whose people were enemies of the Lamanites. The Lamanites despised the Nephites, and the two groups constantly fought bloody wars throughout the Book of Mormon. But after his conversion, Ammon decided he wanted to go teach the Lamanites about Christ. Ultimately, he determined that the best way to go about that would be to serve them, despite their feelings toward him and his people.
You probably already know the story Ammon’s most well-known for: He became a servant to a king of the Lamanites. One day, as he and other servants were watching the king’s flock, some Lamanites scattered the sheep. The other servants were understandably afraid and upset, knowing the king would be angry over the lost flock. But Ammon had a different reaction. We find out how excited he was about this opportunity to teach the other servants about the power of God, and then we read: “And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren” (Alma 17:30; emphasis added). These servants were Lamanites, belonging to the same people who had attacked and killed many Nephites—and yet, in Ammon’s mind, they were “his brethren.”
This verse sank into my heart. I could not and still cannot think of a more pertinent message and principle than the one exemplified by Ammon in this story. During this time of grappling with social unrest and divisiveness, I find it more important than ever to follow the example set by Ammon: I need to esteem everyone as “my brethren,” regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political party, or any other grounds for potential segregation or discrimination. I must follow Ammon’s example and, even more importantly, Christ’s teaching to “love one another” (John 13:34). This commandment has no conditions. We aren’t commanded to love only those of our same race, nationality, or religion.
The Savior taught:
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?” (Matthew 5:46–47).
Expressing racism, nationalism, or any other prejudice or discrimination is not loving one another. Christ truly is no “respecter of persons,” and “all are alike unto God” (see Acts 10:34; 2 Nephi 26:33). Ammon showed this by loving and serving the Lamanites. We can show it by proactively reaching out in love to everyone, regardless of whether they’re in our usual social circles.
I’m so grateful for the Book of Mormon. This experience is one of many that have strengthened my testimony of its truth. Despite it being written many years ago, when I read with an open heart and a pondering mind, I learn valuable lessons that help me face today’s issues and challenges. I hope to be more Christlike by following Ammon’s example and thinking of everyone as “my brethren.” I hope to build on this experience and live more fully one of the greatest commandments—“love one another”—without exception. The Book of Mormon has truly taught me how I can contribute during these difficult circumstances: simply love all of God’s children.