Thursday, October 6, 2016

Certifying worthiness to go to Zion

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15 Thus it cometh out of the church, for according to the law every man that cometh up to Zion must lay all things before the bishop in Zion.
16 And now, verily I say unto you, that as every elder in this part of the vineyard must give an account of his stewardship unto the bishop in this part of the vineyard—
17 A certificate from the judge or bishop in this part of the vineyard, unto the bishop in Zion, rendereth every man acceptable, and answereth all things, for an inheritance, and to be received as a wise steward and as a faithful laborer;
18 Otherwise he shall not be accepted of the bishop of Zion.
19 And now, verily I say unto you, let every elder who shall give an account unto the bishop of the church in this part of the vineyard be recommended by the church or churches, in which he labors, that he may render himself and his accounts approved in all things….
24 A few words in addition to the laws of the kingdom, respecting the members of the church—they that are appointed by the Holy Spirit to go up unto Zion, and they who are privileged to go up unto Zion—
25 Let them carry up unto the bishop a certificate from three elders of the church, or a certificate from the bishop;
26 Otherwise he who shall go up unto the land of Zion shall not be accounted as a wise steward. This is also an ensample. Amen.  (D&C 72:15-19)

In these verses we are given some of the rules by which people were to go up to Zion. 
1)   Consecration – “every man that cometh up to Zion must lay all things before the bishop in Zion” (v15)
2)   Stewardship and accountability – “every elder in this part of the vineyard must give an account of his stewardship unto the bishop in this part of the vineyard” (v16)
3)   Recommendation by the bishop – “a certificate from the judge or bishop…unto the bishop in Zion, rendereth every man acceptable” (v17)

I think we have a mistaken idea today that anyone could decide to go to Zion and settle. These verses give us a different view. They show us that members had to have a certificate from the bishop to take with them to show the bishop in Zion that they had done what was required.  They had to give an account of their stewardship.  The certificate showed they were good stewards (a faithful laborer and wise with their resources) and they could be given an inheritance.  Everyone going up to Zion had to have that certificate, otherwise they were not to be considered a wise steward.

Once they got to Zion, there would be a stewardship interview right off the bat to assess what the new arrival had in their charge (and probably to determine any additional needs or any surpluses that could be disposed).

So, this meant that Zion was to be a place full of people who had consecrated, who were wise stewards (hard workers and wise managers of resources) and had been certified as such by their bishops. Going to Zion did not happen willy-nilly; in fact, people who tried to move there without the certificate would not be given an inheritance by the bishop. According to D&C 85: 1-5, 9-11 there was to be a history kept of those who received their inheritances and those who “snuck to Zion” were not to be listed in those records.

It is more than likely that when it comes to the point that we are building Zion in Jackson county, Missouri, this same pattern will be used again to determine who will go there.  Temple recommend interviews and tithing settlement interviews give us an idea of what it might be like to receive a Zion recommend. 

We’re pretty comfortable with tithing settlement interviews, and it is pretty easy to declare whether we have been a full-tithe payer or not. It’s kind of a binary thing—either we are or we’re not.  A stewardship interview may be trickier because stewardships can be complex.  It occurs to me that probably the best and easiest tool for demonstrating wise stewardship may be our ability to show that we can make and keep a budget and live within our means…