Sunday, August 6, 2017

Zion and gathering

The apostle John taught that we obtain fellowship with one another not through our desire or actions to gather together, but through our desire and actions to align ourselves to God:

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1)

As we approach God, we become capable of fellowshipping with one another in the love of God. If we gather together without first obtaining the love of God in our hearts, our gathering will unavoidable be a fruitless failure.

Zion does not come about through the gathering of sinners who together become saints. Rather, it comes about when individuals become sinless, then are gathered by God.

If people gather prematurely (read: if non-repentant people gather themselves instead of repenting and waiting for God to gather them), the only end will be sorrow. Why? Because any public gathering will result in people showing up who are not prepared. Like a rotten apple in a harvest barrel, it will ruin everything else. Worse would be a man-made gathering with a man-made filtering. Then you not only still have rotten apples, you raise even more ire with God for your respect of persons. God's way of gathering prevents both these problems. His gathering focuses on the poor and meek, not the rich and likable. It also includes only those who would benefit from the experience. Heaven is hell to those who are not prepared to receive it.

One of the reasons unrepentant people want Zion is because they are scared of what is coming. The righteous do not fear what is coming because they trust God, even unto death. It would not help if they did fear, anyway, because protection comes from righteousness, not gathering.

16 For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
17 Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.  (1 Nephi 22)
Zion is not a community. Zion is a condition. Zion cannot happen as a community until it has happened as individuals repenting and obtaining a habitation with God. Does this mean that you cannot seek Zion until you have repented? No, it meets you cannot seek Zion without repenting, and that you seek Zion by repenting.

Just as the cure for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other diseases is fasting, the cure for not having Zion is repenting. Like the example, a Zion condition is the simple result of stopping what prevents it. When you stop sinning, you have Zion, and you cannot have Zion without cessation of sin.

Sound extreme? It isn't. It turns out that the scriptures are rich and consistent in calling men to stop sinning, whether it's called reconciliation to God, repentance, or something else. It's all over the place. It is required. It is fundamental. Why, then, does it seem so extreme? Because we have been raised in both a spiritual and physical environment that teaches that you can get the outcomes through some other means than what is required.

When people are sick, they do not look for the cause of that sickness to reverse it. Instead, they look for a pill to take away the symptoms. Got cancer from smoking? Look for a pill to reverse it. Got fat from eating too much? Look for a pill to reverse it. And so on. That's not the answer. Likewise, if your life is full of sin, there is no pill that is going to bring Zion. The only way you will be a part of it is if you repent. There is no other way. There will be no pill that makes your repentance easier. There is no magic bullet, no withheld secret, that will be revealed in some community of sinners that is going to make your repentance easier. On the contrary, when you are gathered prematurely you will find it much harder to repent, because your response to the imperfections of your peers will be fear, greed, mistrust, and unrighteous judgment.

The blessings of Zion are obtainable by individuals. What do you hope to obtain through Zion? Some say that Zion is defined by people relieving the poor and living in harmony with each other. You can do both of those things at anytime and in anyplace, even if you are alone in doing it. So these cannot be the defining characteristics of Zion. How will it be different for you in Zion than it is now? That is the key question.

In Zion, you will:

  • Abide in the presence of God
  • Be surrounded by mortals who do the same
  • Have access to the church of the Firstborn (the cloud of witnesses/just men made perfect who inhabit Enoch's city)
  • Live in a land which God has blessed, sanctified and promised to protect from those who would harm you

What if I told you that you can do all these things right here, right now?

What are the conditions for obtaining those blessings? You have to repent and learn to walk with God. It just so happens God has told us exactly how to do that. I just finished a book that I believe is the clearest collection of scriptures on the topic (Seek Ye This Jesus). You should read it and do everything the scriptures it contains tell you to do.