“Come to Zion! Come to Zion!” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 94–96
As we meet with Church members around the world, one challenge seems universal: having enough time to do everything that needs doing. Among those who have few resources, the need is for more time to secure the necessities of life. Among those who have sufficient, the need is for more time to attend to the niceties of life. The challenge is daunting because time is fixed; man can neither lengthen out the day nor extend the year.
The world is the culprit. As the world grapples with more efficient ways of managing time, it lures us into more and more earthly pursuits. But life is not a struggle with time—it is a struggle between good and evil.
What to do about all this can be one of the more vexing decisions in life. In 1872, the prophet Brigham Young counseled the Saints on this very subject. Said he: “Stop! Wait! When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food, … bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this? … This is the counsel I have for the Latter-day Saints to day. Stop, do not be in a hurry. … You are in too much of a hurry; you do not go to meeting enough, you do not pray enough, you do not read the Scriptures enough, you do not meditate enough, you are all the time on the wing, and in such a hurry that you do not know what to do first. … Let me reduce this to a simple saying—one of the most simple and homely that can be used—‘Keep your dish right side up,’ so that when the shower of porridge does come you can catch your dish full.”1
Use the gospel plan to set proper priorities. The Lord instructed, “Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God [or Zion], and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”2
As a young boy growing up in southern Utah, the concepts of Zion were much less clear to me than they are today. We lived in a small town not far from Zion National Park. In church we often sang the familiar words:
Israel, Israel, God is calling,
Calling thee from lands of woe.
Babylon the great is falling;
God shall all her tow’rs o’erthrow.
Come to Zion, come to Zion
Ere his floods of anger flow.
Come to Zion, come to Zion
Ere his floods of anger flow.3
In my little-boy mind, I saw the magnificent cliffs and towering stone pinnacles of that national park. Meandering through the high-walled canyons flowed a river of water—sometimes placid, sometimes a raging torrent. You can probably imagine the confusion experienced as this little boy tried to put together the words of the hymn with the familiar surroundings of that beautiful park. Though it was not a perfect fit, lodged in my mind was the impression that Zion was something majestic and divine. Over the years, a grander understanding has emerged. In the scriptures we read, “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart.”4
The establishment of Zion should be the aim of every member of this Church. It can be safely said: As we seek with all our hearts to bring forth and establish Zion, the vexations of too little time will disappear. There are joys and blessings by enlisting in this noble cause. One’s personal life is transformed. The home is no longer a hotel but a place of peace, security, and love. Society itself changes. In Zion, contentions and disputations cease, class distinctions and hatreds disappear, no one is poor—spiritually or temporally, and all manner of wickedness is no more. As many have attested, “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people … created by the hand of God.”5
The ancient prophet Enoch labored many years to bring his people to this state of righteousness. Like our day, they also lived in a time of wickedness, wars, and bloodshed. But the righteous people responded. “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”6
Take special note of the word because in this scripture. Zion is established and flourishes because of the God-inspired lives and labors of its citizens. Zion comes not as a gift but because virtuous covenant people are drawn together and build it. President Spencer W. Kimball observed, “As we sing together ‘Come to Zion,’ we mean … come to the ward, the branch, the mission, the stake, and give assistance to build up Zion.”7 Thus gathered in the Lord’s appointed way, Latter-day Saints conscientiously strive to bring forth Zion as the “kingdom of our God and his Christ,”8 preparatory to the Lord’s Second Coming.9
President Hinckley has reminded us that “this cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth.”10
“If we are to build that Zion of which the prophets have spoken and of which the Lord has given mighty promise, we must set aside our consuming selfishness. We must rise above our love for comfort and ease, and in the very process of effort and struggle, even in our extremity, we shall become better acquainted with our God.”11
Among the doctrines that give rise to this highest order of priesthood society are love, service, work, self-reliance, consecration, and stewardship.12 To better understand how we can build Zion on these foundational truths, let us consider four of them.
The first is love.
“Jesus said … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”13
To love God more than anything else impels us to take control of our priorities and order our lives so as to be in accord with Him. We come to love all of God’s creations, including our fellowman. Placing God first in all things kindles greater love and devotion between husband and wife, parents and children. In Zion, we find “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.”14
Next is work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. The Lord commanded, “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.”15 Work is the source of happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. In the economy of God, there is no room for chicanery and greed. Work is to be honest toil with this overarching, divine purpose: “The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.”16
Self-reliance comes next. It is the harbinger of personal agency and security. This Church and its people are commanded by the Lord to be prepared, self-reliant, and independent.17 Times of plenty are times to live providently and lay up in store. Times of scarcity are times to live frugally and draw on those stores.
“No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life.”18
We are sons and daughters of God and are truly dependent upon Him for all that we have. If we keep His commandments, He will never forsake us. But Heavenly Father does not do for us what we can and should do for ourselves. He expects us to use the means we receive of Him to care for ourselves and our families. When we do so, we are self-reliant.19
Lastly, consecration. The covenant of consecration encompasses sacrifice; circumscribes love, work, and self-reliance; and is fundamental to the establishment of God’s kingdom. “Zion cannot be built up,” the Lord said, “unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.”20 The covenant of consecration is central to this law. We shall one day apply it in its fulness. This covenant embraces the “giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need—whether spiritually or temporally—and in building the Lord’s kingdom.”21
These principles of love, work, self-reliance, and consecration are God given. Those who embrace them and govern themselves accordingly become pure in heart. Righteous unity is the hallmark of their society. Their peace and harmony become an ensign to the nations. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; … it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory [of Zion] … a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family.”22
I bear witness that these things are true. President Gordon B. Hinckley is God’s prophet on the earth, as was Joseph Smith Jr. The kingdom of God is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will become Zion in all her beauty. Christ is the Savior of the world, the Beloved Son of the living God, the Holy One. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.