While reviewing talks given by LDS church leaders during the 1850s and 1860s, I found 26 statements that fell into the category of “What it Takes to Build Zion”. In pondering these, I realized that they fell into two subcategories: Spiritual and Temporal Requirements.
In 1855, President Brigham Young, indicated that building Zion is as much a temporal labor as it is a spiritual one. He said, “You know the old theory is that the kingdom of God, and all pertaining to it, is spiritual and not temporal; that is the traditional notion of our brother Christians. But a person may merely think until he goes down to the grave, and he will never be the means of saving one soul, not even his own, unless he adds physical labor to his thinking. He must think, and pray, and preach, and toil and labor with mind and body, in order to build up Zion in the last days.”
Apostle Daniel H. Wells reinforced this idea on 9/10/1861 when he stated, “To build up Zion is a temporal labor; it does not consist simply in teaching: teaching is to instruct us how to properly apply our labor, the sooner and better to accomplish the end in view. Bone and sinew is required to build up the kingdom of God in the last days.”
This dual approach to building Zion was best expressed by then Apostle Wilford Woodruff. On 4/7/1867 he stated, “We are one of heart and mind, as it regards faith, repentance, baptism, or the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but the same unity must exist in our midst in all our temporal labors—in building temples, tabernacles, cities, towns, villages, canals, cultivating the earth, or any other labor, if we ever accomplish the object for which we have been raised up. No people, unless they are united together, can ever build up Zion and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.”
I believe Elder Woodruff was saying, “Not only must we be united on spiritual matters, but we must also unite in ‘all’ our temporal labors.” We will see in future articles how very much united the early Utah Saints were when it came to their “temporal labors”. In today’s hyper-competitive economy, we Saints are about as disunited temporally as we can possibly be — truly “every man walketh in his own way” (D&C 1:16). True, we have an awesome welfare program to catch those who fall between the cracks in Babylon’s economy, but we are not united “in all our temporal labors”. But we could be.