Throughout the scriptures, both ancient and modern, prophets have foreseen our day and rejoiced that we, of all people in the history of the Earth, are blessed. We are the people God has entrusted with the task of becoming and building a Zion society, prepared to receive the Savior of the world when He returns in glory.
Are we ready?
In Moses, chapter 7, we read that Christ will come to a city of Zion that has been built to receive Him. The leaders of the LDS Church hold the keys for the building of that city. Moving there now and trying to establish that particular Zion without their explicit authorization would be as foolish as it would be futile.
Does that mean that we have nothing to do in that regard? Should we just settle back in Babylon and let it’s evil wash over us incessantly? No! In the Doctrine & Covenants, sections 6, 11, 12, and 14, the Lord encourages several people, and by extension all of us, to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.”
Does a world-class pole vaulter achieve excellence in his sport the first try? On the second? How about the third? No! He practices incessantly to hone his skill in pushing his body up and beyond the bar. He practices his approach constantly until he can do it perfectly. Shouldn’t we?
If we want to be ready to be the tools in God’s hands to build the City of Zion to which the Savior will return, we would do well to follow the example of world-class pole vaulters by practicing being a Zion person and by building Zion (or at least, pre-Zion) homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
We should do all we can to prepare ourselves to be ready when the official call comes. Who is the Lord most likely to choose? Those who sit back and wait in their “summer cottages in Babylon”, gazing at their TVs every night? Or, will He choose those who get anxiously engaged in seeking to “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”? I believe he will choose those who spend time practicing their approach and launching themselves up to surpass the bar. I believe he will call those who get anxiously engaged in practicing the application of the principles of Zion in their lives and communities.
I believe it is safe to assume that being anxiously engaged in the good cause of building Zion, not waiting to be commanded in that regard, would be most pleasing to God, especially right now.
If you are persuaded, or nearly so, the obvious next question is,
“OK, how do we begin?”
FIRST – We must broaden our working definition of the term “Zion”.
Yes, the word does include the New Jerusalem, a city of marvels, but it includes much more. “Zion” also includes the Church of God, but it includes even more. The Lord’s definition of Zion found in Moses 7:18. It tells us that a Zion society has, at least, these three inter-related components:
“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 each one seeking their own.
2. “and dwelt in righteousness“; – ie. their unity in fulfilling their temporal needs and their lack of pride 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. There were no poor to whom the rich gave alms, there were only the prosperous.
These three Zion Principles can all be applied in our hearts, they could be applied in our homes, and in our communities.
Instead of languishing in Babylon and “enduring to the end” of it’s debauchery and filth, getting it on us and our children at every turn, let’s work together to apply these three attributes of Zion everywhere we can! Doing that is the THIRD thing we can do to begin building Zion now.
So, what was SECOND? We must each, individually, get right with God. If we are enslaved by sin, we must apply the Savior’s atonement and overcome that sin by his power and grace. We must then re-connect with God so that we can receive His inspiration on how to apply Zion principles and to come to know whether our plans and efforts are pleasing to Him. For, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”
Must we wait until we are ready to be translated like the inhabitants of Enoch’s city before we can begin our quest for Zion? No! Our quest to build Zion will eventually result in our being worthy to fall upon their shoulders when they come to meet us in the Zion we will eventually build. Like the pole vaulter, we will be refined and prepared by the process of practicing for the big event.
Must we wait for permission to practice building Zion? Do we have to wait for permission to help the poor? to feed the hungry? Do we need God’s permission to build hospitals? Orphanages? Hospices? Do we need permission to do “many good things of [our] own free will, and to bring to pass much righteousness”? No, the Lord answers, “For the power is in [us], wherein [we] are agents unto [our]selves.”
Here’s even more evidence we don’t need permission to practice building Zion:
- “One of the greatest challenges we will face is to be able to live in that world but somehow not be of that world. We have to create Zion in the midst of Babylon…. And with the encroachment of Babylon, we have to create Zion in the midst of it. We should not allow ourselves to be engulfed by the culture which surrounds us.” – Elder David R. Stone, April 2006, General Conference.
- “It is for us, as children of our heavenly Father, to arise and assume the right the law of the Holy Priesthood gives us, and organize the elements for a Zion, and bring it forth, no matter where we are.” – Brigham Young, 2/23/1862
- “There is not one thing wanting in all the works of God’s hands to make a Zion upon the earth when the people conclude to make it. We can make a Zion of God on earth at our pleasure, upon the same principle that we can raise a field of wheat, or build [homes] and inhabit [them].” – Brigham Young, 2/23/1862
Joseph Smith was once asked by a visitor to Nauvoo how “he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order”. He replied that it was easy, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” We Latter-Day Saints have been taught correct principles for generations. Let’s now govern ourselves accordingly in this great preparatory work of building Zion by applying its principles to our lives and social institutions.
It was in the context of the Saints gathering to Jackson County, Missouri, that the Lord told Joseph Smith in D&C 58 the following; as you read it, think of the “good cause” it would be to practice building Zion hearts, homes, neighborhoods, and communities:
25 Wherefore, let them bring their families to this land, as they shall counsel between themselves and me.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
How do you become a world-class Zion builder? Practice.