By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Reflections about Zion

I've been thinking about Zion today. It is defined in the scriptures as the pure in heart. It also sometimes refers to a place, such as Jackson County, Missouri, or the New Jerusalem. Enoch's city was called Zion. Sometimes it refers to the Church and its stakes. When we are counseled to build up Zion, I take it to mean that we are to strengthen the Kingdom of God in whatever way we can.

In the February 1979 Ensign R. Quinn Gardner writes an article called "
Becoming a Zion Society: Six Principles". The six principles he lists are love, service, work, self-reliance, consecration, and stewardship. Breaking down what building Zion means is useful for helping us see it, not as some ethereal concept out of our reach, but as something that we can and should be working on right now, wherever we are.

In the January 1991 Ensign President Ezra Taft Benson's First Presidency Message is called "
Strenthen Thy Stakes". In it, he discusses the purposes of stakes and the responsibilities of members. This, too, can break down the concept into something manageable that we can work on. From "Ideas for Home Teachers" at the end of the article, we learn that:

1. The Lord has instituted stakes for four major purposes:

—to unify and perfect members living within them.

—to be models of righteousness.

—to be a defense for the members.

—to be a refuge from the storm when it is poured out on the earth.

2. Stakehood places important responsibilities on members:

—to be “lights” of the gospel, to share the gospel with others, and to prepare sons and grandsons for missions.

—to make our homes places of refuge, love, and harmony.

—to seek the blessings and ordinances of the temple for ourselves and our kindred dead.

—to be self-reliant.

—to participate in the programs and activities of the Church.

—to be a full-tithe payer and generous contributor of fast offerings.
This gives us something we can get a handle on and put into action.

A third article about Zion comes from the May 2006 Ensign which reprints "
Zion in the Midst of Babylon", a conference talk by Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy. In his talk, Elder Stone discusses the possibility of creating Zion and the kind of influences of Babylon that must be overcome to do so. It is so easy to be overly influenced by the worldly culture that surrounds us and to put too much emphasis on the philosophies of men. We receive the messages of Babylon daily, hourly, through media, through public schooling and higher education, through our friends and neighbors and relatives, through our work--there are many sources. It can be overwhelming and it can take up our time and our thoughts, distracting us from the gospel. We can't withdraw from the world, nor should we, but we can set our priorities so that we put God first. We can create Zion in our homes as a refuge for our family from the world, where they can be taught true principles.

It is sometimes difficult to sort out what we need to do and be. Thoughts of "building up Zion" and "strengthening her stakes" can be overwhelming--what does it mean and how can we, as individual saints do anything about it? Basically, what it comes down to is living the gospel to the best of our ability and being a good example. We can all work on that.



Anonymous barb said...

Zion. I used to repeat the very word Zion to myself from time to time as a source of hope for the future and a reminder that I need to prepare by living as I should now. You provide good ideas of what we can do here and now.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Barb, I too feel that the very word Zion can bring to mind hope and can remind us that we all have a part to play in building up Zion on the earth. I went looking for some talks/articles that could help me know what building up Zion can mean for the individual, and decided to share what I found. Glad you liked it!

4:20 PM  

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