Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to build a city called Zion?

We Latter-day Saints yearn for the day when Zion in Missouri will begin to be built up.  We yearn to take part in that process.  We speculate occasionally about how it will begin, and our speculations can get pretty wild.

I suspect that the Lord has already made it plenty clear how it will begin and we already have this pattern well-established.

50 And I give unto my servant Sidney Rigdon a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the Spirit unto him;
 51 And an epistle and subscription, to be presented unto all the churches to obtain moneys, to be put into the hands of the bishop, of himself or the agent, as seemeth him good or as he shall direct, to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God.
 52 For, behold, verily I say unto you, the Lord willeth that the disciples and the children of men should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit.
 53 Behold, here is wisdom. Let them do this lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood.
 54 And again, inasmuch as there is land obtained, let there be workmen sent forth of all kinds unto this land, to labor for the saints of God.
 55 Let all these things be done in order; and let the privileges of the lands be made known from time to time, by the bishop or the agent of the church.
 56 And let the work of the gathering be not in haste, nor by flight; but let it be done as it shall be counseled by the elders of the church at the conferences, according to the knowledge which they receive from time to time. (D&C 58:50-56)

So here’s the process as I understand it:

1.     All the churches will be invited (whether by First Presidency letter to each unit or by general conference announcement) to give money to purchase land for Zion.  All the church will be invited to open their hearts to purchase the land.
2.     Workmen will be sent to labor for the Saints.
3.     All things must be done in order, meaning it is an organized process and can’t be done out of order without problems occurring, so you have to be patient.  (In the 1830s, revelation from the Lord was given that those who were to go up to Zion were to be recommended by their bishop to go, and one of the problems was that a number of people didn’t wait for a recommend and just went on their own.  The Lord gave revelation about them in D&C 85, and if you read that, you will see He wasn’t pleased.)
4.     The privileges of the lands were to be known from time to time.  This could be land use or knowledge as to who should come to the land next.
5.     The gathering was not to be in haste, nor by flight.  It’s not supposed to be like a refugee camp.  It is a gradual, organized growth, probably with people chosen by revelation.
6.     It will be done as counseled by the elders of the church at the conferences, according to the knowledge they receive from time to time.  Revelation is very much involved, as is study through counsels of the church, and possibly by common consent, since it is at the conferences.

Thus, when we “return to Zion,” it isn’t going to be a mass exodus, an exit pursued by mob, but a gradual process of growth, which we will qualify ourselves to participate in by opening our hearts to give money for the purchase of the land.  That purchase will test our faith because it may seem as though we might not personally benefit from it.  It may seem as though we are purchasing land for others to live on and enjoy.  But verse 53 suggests it is necessary for us to do it to receive OUR inheritance.  “Let them do this lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood.”

(This made me think about what I would be willing to give if I were called upon to help purchase lands for Zion.  I hesitate to mention this, but I think I would be willing to sell our house, give the proceeds, and live in an apartment.) 

Is the above process exactly how it is going to be?  I don’t know.  Will there be any changes due to economic circumstances or conditions?  There might.  But in general, I think it will be about the same as revealed.


Now, I have heard that bishops around Independence, Missouri have had troubles in the past with families who appear suddenly at church and say, “Well, we’re here; we just had a feeling we should come,” These families come without a job or even a place to stay and yet expect the bishop to help them out.  I leave it to you to decide whether their coming was inspiration or irresponsibility.  Surely this kind of problem no longer happens(ahem)


I think that it is not enough for us to forsake the world.  It seems to me that we must have something better to embrace.  (Nature abhors a vacuum..)  We can’t leave Babylon behind unless we have Zion firmly in view.  We have to figure out what we need to do differently and what to do in addition to what we already do. 

We don’t know how long it will be before the city of Zion begins to be established.
But what if….  What if you knew that Zion was 5 years in the future?  What would you choose differently in your life?  How would that change your focus and your conversation or the way you planned for the future or what you planned for? 
I ask because I wonder how much prep time we need for studying for Zion and changing for Zion and experimenting for Zion.   What do you feel you need to learn in order to be a part of Zion?  I’m not sure I can even answer that question myself, which means I have some studying and self-examination to do.

While we're thinking about what we need to learn, check out this Ted-talk video about "collaborative consumption."  Collaborative consumption means having access to certain goods we happen to need only briefly without needing to own them.  What do you think?


Bethie Marie said...

This is a wonderful article! Lots to think and pray about.

I've posted a link to it on my blog, "Adam-ondi-Ahman and the Building of Zion".

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Before the city can be built, there must be a people prepared. Are we a Zoin peole yet?

RGG said...

Thanks for this informative post. I have always had the impression that as a "people" we are preparing for Zion. I have wondered, what type of preparations constitute a "Zion people". There are Temples being built and new opportunities to spread the gospel around the world. There has been a steady flow of new converts to the chruch, Missionary work seems to be thriving. Will the strength of Zion be based on the hearts and the preparatory work of "this people"? Is our role model, the people of Enoch?
This is thought provoking, indeed.

Michaela Stephens said...

"Are we a Zion people yet?"

That is a very important question, that requires a lot of scripture to find the requirements and then a lot of soul-searching to determine whether we match. I think everyone has to put study into figuring out what the requirements are because often we don't really "own" the doctrine unless we have searched and studied it out on our own. Hence, I study and share what I find, and you must study and share what you find and we try to prepare ourselves as best we can.