In a Facebook group discussing Zion, a participant posted this comment which illustrates the problem pointed out in the title of this blog post:
“I am all for increased spirituality. I keep thinking of John Pontius’ book regarding Zion. I feel I still have so much to learn and so far to go. I too love the concept, but boy, I am certainly not as worthy as so many others, yet. I’m striving to be prepared in the manner the Spirit has directed me in. It’s getting difficult emotionally and mentally. Lots of judgmental naysayers. I am trying to love anyway. If I can’t do that, I will never be a Zion person.”
“See, that’s what disappointed me about Pontius’ book — reading it gives us the impression we have to be perfect, or nearly-so, to participate in Zion, and that can’t possibly be true! It took Enoch 365 years to get his people from where they started to being taken into heaven. My guess, though I don’t know you at all, is that anyone who is driven to prepare spiritually and temporally IS ready.”
Then someone else posted, “John’s Pontius point was that we need to be sanctified rather than perfect to abide God’s glory in our future Zion cities.”
Doesn’t that support my point? Who do you know that is “sanctified”? Are you?
Let’s go to the source. From page 3 of Pontius’ book “The Triumph of Zion”, we read:
“As we continue to explore Zion throughout this book, it will become apparent that to be a participant in Zion is to be pure, to be endowed with the fullest priesthood power, to rise above the mortal sphere, to be endowed with power that transcends life and death, to have authority in heaven and on earth, and to quite literally dwell with God.”
After reading THAT, don’t you think to yourself, “Well, guess I can’t live there!”?
Then 3 paragraphs later John makes my point for me:
“Such a Zion lifestyle so powerfully exceeds our present paradigm that it becomes inconceivable–not in the perception of Zion someday being like this for someone, but in the perception of Zion being like this in our day, for you and me. We can’t conceptually place ourselves in that Zion.”!
And therefore, why try?
Then, in the very next sentence, he identifies the problem he and other authors help to create by setting the bar so high with his definition of Zion:
“In other words, we don’t believe what our faith actually tells us [about Zion]. Thus we have ceased to strive for the very thing which would bring our greatest triumph in mortality, and our greatest joy.”
Because he and others put the bar for entrance into Zion so very high, It’s no wonder we have “ceased to strive” for Zion!
In contrast, if we use God’s definition of Zion as found in Moses 7, we are empowered and enabled to build Zion in the here and now by applying the three principles into our hearts, homes, and communities:
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because“:
1. “they were of one heart and one mind“, – ie. they were united in purpose and action – all worked for the benefit of all instead of seeking one’s own aggrandizement.
2. “and dwelt in righteousness“; – ie. their lack of pride and their economic equality prevented crime and corruption from even arising.
3. “and there was no poor among them.” – their economic system prevented the division of classes into rich and poor.
You don’t have to be perfect, or nearly-so, to participate in a society like that!
You just have to :
a. be willing to work for the benefit of everyone,
b. be willing to work out issues that create conflict between you and others, and
c. be willing to see and conquer pride using readily-available tools.
This entire encounter shows that how we view Zion matters. If we view Zion as this perfect society with perfect people, we will never lift a finger in the here-and-now to build it — why try? It’s impossible. On the other hand, if we see Zion as a starting point to creating a perfect society out of imperfect people, like Enoch did, then we are empowered and excited to get started now.