20 ianuarie 2015

Zion, Love, & Non-Interference

This post was originally on 2ndwitness.com, which has since gone offline. When I realized in 2016 that the link was broken, I went looking on archive.org to find the original article, and I am reposting it here because I think it's important to preserve.

Zion, Love & Non-Interference

by anonymous, Jan 20, 2015

More Than A Goal

Some might find what I'm going to say upsetting....But, I'm going to say it anyway. We're deluded as a culture about what we think agency, freedom and what  a Zion society will look like in practical terms. As a result there will need to be a great shift required to enable us to get up to Zion. We have to be prepared in our hearts and in our minds....There's a literal mountain to climb; but there will be a holy place prepared by The Lord for those willing to pay the price. 

We have delusions (many founded in tradition and folklore) about how things will transpire; it will surprise us how it all unfolds and who is involved.... 
The numbers will be fewer and the power will be greater. The sacrifices required will be more than most will submit themselves to but if we can do it, the intercession provided on our behalf will be beyond our expectations. 

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--

(Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-42)

Correct principles are so simple that children can understand them. Yet, as with children, knowing correct principles isn't always enough to stop them from making painful mistakes. Knowing a principle and internalizing the same principle are not the same thing. Sometimes our ability to see what is in front of us, and apply it under practical circumstances, eludes us. We need to gain experience for ourselves as Christ did, and then learn how to apply it all the time, like He does. This requires both restraint and patience. (Neither are my strong suit - I have a long way to go.)

God loves all of us equally. He can and does love us by virtue of His own experience. His descending below all things qualifies Him to be able to understand how we feel, what our trials are, what we fear, what we need to overcome. We do not have the same experience He does, but He does try to give us the tools to understand how we can become like Him. He teaches us principles and then He provides opportunities to apply what we've learned under practical circumstances. Our success is dependent on how we internalize and then practice what we have learned. Every painful experience should be looked upon as a blessing. The more I understand my own folly through my own life blunders, the more patient and understanding I can become. Then, I can relate to how my Savior feels and truly behave in a more Christ-like fashion toward my fellow man.

One of the opportunities given to all mankind in every dispensation has been a chance to establish Zion; to have a place where the Savior can dwell among us. It's a chance to put our faith and belief into action so we can come into His presence as a united community while in mortality. Very few have ever been able to qualify. If you ask the question - 'What is Zion?' - the answers you get to that question are often, 'the pure in heart', 'to be of one heart and one mind', 'to dwell in righteousness'. We know the book answers. How do we bridge the chasm between understanding what Zion is and living it? What will it take for people to be able to live peaceably, without jealousy, and without hate? 

I would like to put to you what I think Zion is and what it will take to accomplish it.

Zion is Love.

It is simple to understand. 

It's principle based.

And that's also why it almost always fails to become a reality.

In a Zion community there should be no strong men. Everyone would understand their own worth before their Savior so no one would feel the need to place themselves above another or try to set themselves up as a light for others to follow. They trust the Holy Ghost will lead them aright. 

False and Deceiving Spirits 

There are always a plethora of false spirits that will convince some that they are now or were someone magnificent in another life and how you need to follow them. These are actually fun...well, entertaining. They mostly testify of themselves and their own greatness. They spout accolades about their earthly achievements and/or try to demonstrate how their spiritual prowess does exceed your own. They will attempt to lead others away with flattery. They rarely testify of Christ. And if they do, it's an afterthought. Some deceiving spirits are sneakier and harder to detect than others. Someone may start out seeming that they are aligned with Christ....but if their heart is not fixed on doing the Lords will and/or they are not continually trying to fortify themselves against pride, eventually, deceiving spirits resurface and something always gives them away. Some people are so comfortable with various familiar spirits, they won't be able to give them up. So, some people you might be able to reclaim - some you cannot. You must learn to discern for yourselves. (Joseph had to deal with this, so will you.)

Community Of Believers 

In a Christ centered community, there would be no poor - temporally or spiritually - because all understand the principles that must exist to make it work. Zion can only exist where free agency is respected and upheld. The agency of others would be honored. It's what the war in Heaven was fought over. Christ volunteered to die so we could retain it. Without it, any attempt to establish a Zion community will fail..it will always disintegrate when working with and strictly relying on human nature. The natural tendency of human beings is to control or curtail others behavior with rules and laws to bring the unruly in to compliance, to keep peace, to protect the innocent, and punish the wicked. This is the law of man. It is lesser and always doomed to failure if you are trying to achieve something greater. It lacks the kind of love needed for Zion to flourish. It takes practice to become pure in heart.

Our earthly stewardships (our time, talents and all we have been blessed with and all that the Lord may bless us with) and the execution of those stewardships rests in our understanding of keeping the sanctity of our individual relationships with God and His plan for us. The relationship between God and the individual should not be interfered with. Ever. To do so is to trifle with sacred things. Problems will always arise when one person oversteps these heavenly boundaries and walks on someone elses 'sacred ground'. They do this by placing themselves between the other individual and his or her relationship with their Savior. 

I can testify that is not all that hard for someone to tromp all over someone elses 'sacred ground' and be completely unaware that they are doing it. I have been both party to it and the recipient of it. We all have. 

How does this happen? Mainly through false expectations. False expectations of what people feel might be owed to them by their parents, society, their country...a feeling of being entitled to receive what they have not earned yet somehow feel they deserve. In the world this done by expecting something (or more) of someone else than you do of yourself. It usually involves someone you are familiar with like your neighbour, your boss, your community.. But it involves taking something from them that is not yours. You may physically do this or you may allow the government to do for you. In the case of your employer, if you are unproductive, you are getting paid for time you owe him. If you rely on government assistance and are capable of providing for yourself, it is the same. It creates a dependence on anyone but yourself. We live in a society that teaches that the world owes us something. It's ok or even glorious to get gain with little or no effort on your part. 

31 Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness.
(D&C 68:31)

The world teaches if you want or need something badly enough, you should just TAKE IT - you deserve it. This way of thinking is counter productive to trying to learn how to 'dwell in righteousness' with others. If you think taking what you need, when you need it, without regard for the person you are taking it from -and everyone around you thinks the same way- how can there be spiritual progress?

'Sacred Ground'

There are those who have learned to hear the Lords voice, who - in their hearts - want to serve God and his children but have been taught incorrect principles and unintentionally trespass against their fellow man by blowing craters in their 'sacred ground'. If they knew it was hurting someone else, and they knew it was offending God, they wouldn't did it. For them, it is a simple matter of one person caring enough to teach with love and give them the tools they need to be able to understand how their actions are affecting someone else. Then allow the individual to correct themselves. Patience is required. It took a lifetime to ingrain certain beliefs - it can't be corrected  in a day... Traditions and false beliefs spurred on by societal teachings and media have done so much damage. Entitlement is one of the greatest plagues in North America. Our opulent living has produced a generation of adults who see government handouts as a right. The teachings of the Savior and a willing heart are all that is required for change. Teach correct principles and they govern themselves. It's up to those who understand the principles of freedom to love their fellow men enough to share what can be achieved by internalizing true principles - but never by any other means than pure love. Never with coercion, guilt or force, but by love unfeigned. 

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

(Doctrine and Covenants 121:42-44)

The Savior taught that there are really only 2 great commandments:

Love the Lord with all thy heart, might, mind and strength.

The other is like unto it:

Love thy neighbor as thyself.


So, what would this look like to people who want to be part of a community who's desires are to bring to pass Zion? How can we learn to be Zion in our hearts and minds?

Needs vs. Wants

In a community of people trying to live together, physical needs must be met. Meaning: Food, clothing, shelter, water. 

I say this not to be callous or to seem trite, but it's not as obvious as it seems. Some consider their blessed TV to be an actual need. Take away someones iPhone and watch them go into a coma. We are addicted to Babylon. It's many distractions, trappings, and diversions have their hooks sunk deep into a large portion of the children of God. Forget about what many would consider physical hardships by today's standards - possibly like washing clothes by hand or fetching firewood - I know people who would seriously go into depression without Facebook. 

People will have to understand that basic means exactly that - basic. If your idea of roughing it is a stay at the Hilton, prepare to be disappointed. However, a community not willing to put their heads together to take care of the basic needs of anyone that might not be as prepared temporally as the next guy is a good example of 'Go home and do it again.' There will be no turning away of the fatherless or the widow who desire to be part of Zion. Be gracious. At some point, we may all be in the 'have not....anything' boat together. I won't go into how much preparation and work and sacrifice this will probably take, but it will be considerable. Here's hoping wherever Zion communities are attempted, they have enough outdoorsman with enough skills to get them by when the weather turns bad. Food will be basic - like rice and beans. Clothes might not be pretty and may include hand me downs. (Sorry, Tommy Hilfiger) You may have to boil your water before you can drink it. Until we learn to use the priesthood to wield the elements as the Lord directs, tough lessons in perseverance, long suffering, and learning to do without, will need to be learned. 

Thumb Twiddlers

42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer. (D&C 42:42)

Zion communities will have to work together. People have their agency, but one must consider that if you are physically capable of working and do not do your share, if you do not pull your own weight - or use your agency to refrain from helping altogether - you are forcing someone else to unnecessarily carry your load for you. It's just another kind of theft. True, there are times when people will volunteer their time to serve you, but it's their stewardship to give of their own time and talents as the Lord directs. It's between them and God. Not between you and them and God. Sacred ground. Choosing to withhold when one is more than capable of helping provide for their own needs is to interfere in another's relationship with their maker when you live in such a connected community. What you do or do not do affects the others. So, pull up your big girl panties, and put in an honest effort. It may be hard at first. You might get sore....what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I personally believe that most people function at about 50% capacity of what they are capable of when it comes specifically to physical stamina. So, put your shoulder to the wheel, brother/sister - It's pleasing to God to be self sufficient as much as you are able.

For a while there will be people who are more prepared that others will have to rely on. This must be the case and peoples physical stewardships must be respected. Why? There will be many stops on the road to building a Zion community. And we aren't ready for all that that means. Not yet. Josephs attempt of trying to implement living the law of consecration was an utter disaster. People should be willing to share everything they have but they can't be forced into doing so. Remember the pocket watch incident? There is a false notion that having everything in common means one can rightfully walk into someone else's dwelling, unannounced, uninvited, rifle through personal belongings and take whatever they see. The people didn't understand agency or stewardship in Joseph's time and his attempt to give them something more failed miserably. One must understand that the law of consecration in more involved than just sharing all your physical items. It has everything to do with seeing others needs and freely choosing to fill them without being compelled to do so. You are Christ's hands. You provide if you can because you care as much, if not more, for someone else and their welfare as you do for your own. I honestly think until everyone loses everything and is forced to rely solely on the Heavens for their support, they will not be able to live this higher law in its fullness.

As a side note, not to be a downer, but one has only to turn on the TV to see that people turn into greedy, selfish monsters who will steal and plunder and hurt anyone that is perceived to have more - especially if times get tough, food becomes scarce, or resources dwindle. If you think the LDS community at large is exempt from this behavior because they live higher, morally clean lives - you might, again, be disappointed. You do not know what people are capable of until a truly terrible situation arises. (Or money is involved...but that's a whole other blog...)

Thankfully, the opposite is also true, although not nearly as common. The cream does rise to the top when bad things happen. Some people will sacrifice for a stranger at their own peril, but their numbers are few. It will be enlightening to see who in your community really does love their neighbour when times get tough. Those who can learn to live in harmony now, by internalizing principles of agency love, and non-interference before they have to live them to the utmost, will be able make the eventual transition from Christ centered community to Zion. It won't be easy, but if we allow it, the Savior will provide the opportunities we need to understand what is required at our hands. If we choose to do things His way,  He will give us the exact experiences we need so we can gain the needed confidence to do so. Those who will succeed will have qualified by acquiring the necessary tools, experience and knowledge to be able to establish a place where the Saviour   can dwell with us. But all must first learn how to work and support each other the way Christ wants us to. To give in the way He wants us to. To share the way he wants us to.

What If I Really Want Pizza?

So, let's assume basic needs are covered. What if you want something beyond that? 

I also happen to believe that our heavenly parents want us to be happy. Sometimes they provide something extra that doesn't fall into our 'need' category just because they can. If you are trying to live in one of these communities and you have a desire for something above and beyond your needs, you should not assume that because there is someone in your circle who can or has the means to provide the thing or service that you desire, that they be expected to be the ones to provide it for you. Again, you cannot decide for someone else how, and when, and in what capacity, they should serve you. Expectations of what you believe others should do for you interferes with the sacred process of individual revelation. When people have expectations of others, they will use guilt, coercion or consequences as a way to compel someone into serving them the way the way they think they ought to be served. When this happens, the spirit withdraws and both parties may end up having hard feelings.. One will think the other person is selfish for not providing what they want. The other will feel violated because their agency is being tampered with.

Whenever you use compulsion by any means, it grieves the spirit.

What Never Works

A modern example:

Two women and their families live in close proximity to one another. Both have capable, loving husbands. Both agreed to live lives consecrated to serving the Lord. Both are willing to serve and have good intentions. 

One family has small children. The other family is older with teenagers. The mother with small children decides that she is overwhelmed would like to take a break. She allows her kids to go outside and takes a nap assuming that her neighbour (because she has teenagers, has volunteered on other occasions to watch her children, and is willing to serve others generally) will watch over her children while she gets some time to herself. The other mother, while busy, sees her neighbours children around the house and in an effort to be Christ-like, and wanting to serve, she and her children watch over them. This service was not verbally requested at this time - but it was easy to obtain and willingly given. The young mother gets the rest she desired, her children were taken care of by someone she trusts and no one complained. But then a pattern begins to emerge. Over time it becomes apparent, there is an unspoken expectation for the mother with older children that she and her family can (and should) make themselves available to watch the other families smaller children on a regular basis. A dependence has quietly, unintentionally formed. It becomes easy to encroach on another's agency. One person has inadvertently placed themselves between someone else's stewardship, (their time, talents and gifts) Gods direction for them, and execution of the stewardship He has entrusted them with.  The Lords direction in this regard as to how one person uses their stewardship to build up the kingdom has been subverted by the personal desires of another. 

If the mother's help is withdrawn, she may be seen as selfish and insensitive to other mothers wants and desires. One woman makes a comment that makes the one doing the service seem petty for not continuing to give the service she has come to rely on. Guilt is a tool often employed to get what you think you deserve. This is a quiet form of coercion. 

To be clear, your children are your own stewardship - everyday, all the time. There will be times when emergency or legitimate need arises where might need extra help for your children. These times are obvious, and people who love God and you will not let another suffer if they have the means to lift that burden. There will also be times when people volunteer to watch your kids because they just want to. Even when this kind of service is voluntary, it should not be taken advantage of or abused. The stewardship of children rests squarely on the parents shoulders. If you allow others to do what you should and can be doing for yourself and your own family, you are -whether you realize it or not - allowing someone else to unnecessarily carry your burden for you. If you think that the meaning of having 'all things in common' means you have claim on other peoples time, talents, gifts, and blessings, you are laboring under a false perception. You can't expect to be able to rightly exercise your agency by forcing someone else to give up theirs. Sacred ground.

The Lord's Way of Thinking

The Lord has a different process for providing for someone's needs and desires. In a Zion community it would be common for everyone to have faith that peoples individual desires are known to their Savior. They will allow the Lord to provide for those desires - the way He sees fit, in His timing, by whatever means or through whomever He chooses. You would tell your Father in Heaven in earnest of your desire and ask that it might be fulfilled and leave it in His hands to deliver it - if it is His will to deliver it. If your request is to be answered, you will have confidence that everything will work out according to what is best for you and everyone involved. You will have faith that Lord may direct another to take care of that desire. You may be surprised who will be directed and hear the Lords call to serve you. And if your desire is fulfilled by these means, all will know the source by which it came. Thereby, the giver and the receiver are both edified. Faith will turn to sure knowledge. Both will know and be able to testify that the Lords will prevailed and worked in both their lives and they will, in turn, give the all the glory to God. There will be no false expectations of others, no guilt, coercion, no compulsion ....only love and increased faith in a loving Father in Heaven. There will be increased trust that He does know what is best for all of us. If this is the only means by which people have their desires met, I believe there will be more and greater service provided (for both need and wants) because His vision for us is often better and more complete than we could have imagined for ourselves. 

If we can adhere to conducting ourselves by incorporating principles that support and respect others agency and their stewardships, we ultimately provide a safe environment where people are not guarded, apprehensive, and be able to trust the motives of others. Zion might actually have a chance. People will begin to know that even their smallest petitions to the Lord are often answered the best way possible that allows for the most growth for everyone. People will know their stewardships will not be exploited. There will be no jealousy, comparing, no judging, no interference or trampling of other peoples agency. This is the beginning of learning to be of one heart and one mind. It won't happen in a day. There will need to be several stages and adjustment periods. You might be able to physically leave Babylon behind, but it will take considerably more time to remove Babylon from our hearts.

45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

(D&C 121:45-46)

Because we desire to interfere with the Lords process for providing for our wants and needs and tend to rely on our own wisdom, we miss the mark and fail to see what is right in front of us. The tools have always been there. Christ continually directs us to use the tools He's given us. The principles are sound. The concept is easy, but hard to apply in a wicked world that constantly teaches the opposite. Traditions have to be set aside, false paradigms abandoned. 

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

(Doctrine and Covenants 121:40)

The hope of Zion requires us to completely align ourselves with the Saviors will and His will alone. It's not impossible, but it is the only way to learn to become nit in unity in our hearts and minds. It's the only way to be able to learn how to dwell in righteousness with no poor among us. This must first be accomplished before there is any hope of Zion being established on the earth. We can't call ourselves Zion - If we haven't done it, we can't claim to be it.

It my prayer and hope that enough will have the heart to make those sacrifices.  My heart breaks because of the struggle ahead of us; it rejoices because of the overwhelming blessings we may receive if we choose to follow Jesus Christ. 

The Lord will preserve his people. My heart breaks because of how few there will be.  These few are those who come to an awakening of their awful situation.  My heart rejoices because of this few who rise above the dross and false traditions of this generation.

The Lord is orchestrating this final wrap up scene. As the Lord does His great work we're all as spectators, even those who are commissioned to assist. The Lord awaits the few who will rise to receive the personal ministry of God.

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