This past weekend, I was able to watch the worldwide broadcast of my church’s semi-annual General Conference. One of the speakers, D. Todd Christofferson, spoke about preparing for the return of Jesus Christ and building Zion. This is a subject I feel very passionate about. As I listened, I put big stars in my notebook next to these words Elder Christofferson shared from the Prophet Joseph Smith:
We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”
I also loved hearing about the new song that will be sung by the inhabitants of Zion, found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 84. I even googled the song’s lyrics to see if anyone had put it to music yet. And, sure enough, several people have.
Another thing that struck me as I listened to Elder Christofferson speak was this phrase from Moses 7:18:
There was no poor among them.”
It struck me then, and I have continued to ponder it all day today. What does it mean that a Zion people have no poor among them? How does this come about?
Some friends came over to visit with us today, and the mother of the group told me how sweetly her 7-year-old daughter has expressed her desire to help other people and feed the poor. Her tender heart yearns to go out and serve. She is a dreamer. Her brother’s response to her yearnings was a reality check, I suppose: “You can’t feed everyone!”
Most of us want to help the poor. Most of us have those innate yearnings to love and help our fellow humans. But most of us also have the reality check of meeting the needs of our own families. Most of us do what little we can to help others and wish we could do more. I know I wish I could do more.
All of this has me thinking a lot about “no poor among them.” What does “no poor among them” look like and feel like? To me, it looks and feels like abundance, bounty… enough and to spare. Where does that abundance and bounty come from? Well, everything comes from God, of course. But how does God generally provide for His people? Human history shows us plenty of evidence that God doesn’t generally distribute wealth evenly among His children. The range in poverty and riches varies drastically, in fact. Why do you think that is? I have a few ideas, but I’ll let you ponder your own.
If Zion will be a place of abundance, how will God provide that abundance? I suspect that the abundance of Zion will come from pure souls who have been blessed with wealth, especially for the purpose of building up Zion.
It seems a common belief in society that rich people can’t be truly good… that wealth inevitably corrupts people. I believed this myself for a good chunk of my life. And for most of my adult life, I did not even want to make money. It was always my preference to do things for free rather than accept money in exchange for my talents or services. The idea of making money was very unappealing to me.
But I don’t feel that way anymore. And it is partly because of what I am coming to understand about Zion. I can build Zion spiritually in my heart, I can work to become pure in heart, I can strive to be of “one heart and one mind” with my human family, but as far as the physical building of Zion… the concrete, the hands-on, the reality check of feeding everyone and eradicating poverty… I can’t really build Zion. Not in my present financial situation. We have enough for our needs, but we also have very little wiggle room. If I want to actually build Zion, I need to produce much more than I consume. I need to have an abundance to share.
President Marion G. Romney taught:
How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak (“Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 91-93).
President Romney’s words give an even deeper meaning to “no poor among them.” Zion will be full of abundance, not just because of physical wealth but also because its inhabitants will not be “emotionally starved” or “spiritually weak.” Zion’s inhabitants will have already been healed of their unseen wounds. Zion’s abundance will be physical, emotional, and spiritual.
My heart yearns so very deeply for Zion. I want to do whatever is within my power to bring Zion to Earth. One of the actions I feel inspired to take to bring about the blessing of building Zion is to increase my family’s wealth, to produce an abundance from which we can lift and serve our human family better.
My former self would not have felt comfortable seeking riches. But my present self takes comfort in the words of Jacob:
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted (Jacob 2:19).