Although Jesus Christ was very direct and spoke in boldness against the iniquity and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes, He never once forced anyone to follow Him. The commandment to follow Him was only ever by, and will forever only be by, invitation. It is not in the Character of Christ to force people to convert to Him. He will never force anyone to obey Him. He will never force anyone to love Him. Jesus Christ is like this because although He loves each one of us eternally, He wants us to love Him in return. Not only does He want us to have faith and trust in Him, He eventually, like Nephi in Helamen 10:4-5, wants to have faith and trust in each one of us. His love is Godly and perfect and therefore He wants a loving, two-way, two-sided relationship with each of us. You cannot have a pure loving relationship with someone if you force yourself upon them or seek to limit their freedom by control, abuse, or manipulation. True love will only flourish and flow when agency and free-will are present and un-manipulated. The person you are in love with must choose freely for themselves to love you in return for that relationship to be “real”. Jesus is in love with you, but he wants a “real” relationship. So instead of coming down in a cloud of thunder and demanding your respect, He simply waits for you to first choose to love Him.
That is why the Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, fought against Lucifer in the pre-existence to protect the agency of man. (Moses 4:1-4) Because without agency, there can be no love; And by definition God is love. (1st John 4:16, Lectures on Faith 3:24) This is why Jesus Christ will never seek to take away or manipulate our agency. This is why Christ stands at the door waiting for us to let Him in. (Rev 3:20) This is why He will sometimes appear to us as a stranger, engaging in casual yet deep conversation. (See Luke 24) This is why He does not demand worship because of his appearance or status- He commands worship by His word, or what He says, or in other words by the context of His message and teachings. (see 3rd Nephi 11:8-12)
Likewise, true followers and disciples of Jesus Christ will never force anyone to convert or believe the way they believe. They will never exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men. (D&C121:37) They will only seek to persuade other to follow Christ, or “exercise” the priesthood, the way the Lord does which is only by:
“persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy”
(Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–43)
Love, or the power of God, can be likened unto a liquid. I find it interesting that among the ordinances that Christ has given to mankind they all contain a liquid element. Baptism uses water which can represent being washed and cleaned from sin. Concentrated oil is used to anoint and bless; Christ’s oil anoints us to glory. Wine is used in the sacrament as a representation of Christ’s blood, which blood sanctifies us. (Moses6:60) These liquids signify holiness and spirituality. Both are preeminent symbols of God’s love or power.
Liquids cannot be grasped or held in your hands, for the tighter you squeeze your hand, the more and more liquid escapes from between your fingers. The moment you try to control the liquid with force, you lose it! The same concept can be applied to the powers of heaven:
“The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”
(Doctrine and Covenants 121:36–37)
The only way to handle a liquid with your hands is with open and gently cupped hands. We cannot control God's love and power, all we can do is allow it to flow through us. You cannot share the love of God or minster the gospel of Jesus Christ with clenched fist.
Keeping the commandments as a personal matter does not involve you oppressing anyone else. If you are trying to impose a standard of conduct upon others you are not only going to fail, you are going to be violating the scriptures’ teachings as well. The Gospel is intended to be lived “without compulsory means.”
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”
(Doctrine and Covenants 121:46)