A Church Cannot Bring Zion

(Note: this a repost from Latterdaycommentary May 19, 2015)

Zion is a study in personal micro-economics applied to the greater good.  In the application on the aggregate is where Zion will be found. I was an economics major 20 years ago, but concepts stick around even as the lessons get a bit fuzzy. For the uninitiated, there is this voodoo concept in economics known as utility. Utility, in the simplest terms, is whatever makes you happy.  It’s actually not that simple because happiness is hard to define.  It’s different for every person.  A better definition would be “enjoyment.” The purpose of micro-economic activity is typically for a person to maximize his/her enjoyment in life. The tends to be focused on the material, for now, but also in the future, and even for future generations.

Utility maximization is part of the natural man. It is inherent. That’s why to much of an extent, ascertaining private purchasing behavior works for experts in business and on Wall Street. People become billionaires ascertaining aggregate utility. In a way, I hope to rework concepts a bit so that there is a new definition, a new reality, and a new maximization point as we each try to reach for Zion.

Zion is not a maximization of utility, or enjoyment, but a maximization of grace. It’s grace unto others, which in turn, comes back to you.  It is linked to salvation; it is linked to overcoming all things.  It is the magic pill, if you will, in repentance. Think about it. How many time do we sin, repent, sin, and combat the natural man in hopes that one day we will be free of such things? We believe in grace, “after all we can do.”  I believe we misunderstand that scripture. It’s not all we can do as it pertains to teeth-gritting endurance of a particular temptation. It is after all we can do . . . for others. It’s an action statement, not one of white-knuckled determination.

So we need to ask ourselves, have we done ALL we can do? A major part of achieving Zion is throwing away the damnable doctrine of the “prosperity gospel” deep into the trash heap, the kind where the Lord blessed me with riches, with more “utility,” because I am a good guy and I love the Lord. It needs to die its Babylonian death. It’s true the Lord may bless you with more resources, with more stewardship, but if you spend it on utility, or the avoidance of needed to obtain utility the rest of your life or your children’s lives, you may as well be the unprofitable servant who buried the talent in the earth.

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Capitalism will send you to hell. Capitalism is the accumulation of capital, or assets that leverage utility. Why would anyone want to continue accumulating capital after one “has sufficient for his needs?” The answer is fear of the future, fear of losing future utility, all the while believing that it’s based on some idea of merit or achievement, or a sense that one “deserves” their capital. John D. Rockefeller believed he was one of the richest men in the world because he was a teetotaling Baptist believer, yet he consigned so many to misery. Capitalism is worshiped by the rich and the wannabes as the secret of success. It’s accomplishment comes at surrounding yourself and insulating yourself with utility, and the fear and absence of future utility. It’s seen as a good thing because it motivates one to be a hard worker. But does it? If hard work accomplishes capital accumulation AT FIRST, it’s continued accumulation is usually accomplished at the expense of hard work, or in fine, buying and selling, manipulating, and cajoling the market into a situation where you can simply accumulate the capital through mutual commerce or at another’s expense while you while away your hours in leisure. While a good man can employ capitalism to benefit others, hoarding capital is never justified as a way to Zion. It is more often a way to a lost soul.

Government-ism

Uncle Sam cannot bring Zion. Zion is about changing hearts, not the law. Coercive legal action hearkens back to a fallen people, those who cannot sustain the higher things, whose hearts are not written the waters of life, who are not simply shamed into giving, but their wallets are force-ably raided. We trade one law for the next, one punishment for another, but Zion is a people in which the law is fulfilled in Christ. There is no need for a man, be it of the cloth or of the badge, to make intercessory with the Lord on our behalf. It’s true we may accomplish our design of helping the poor, but assistance without love, assistance or entitlement, of getting even, or reparations, do not heal the wounded soul. America’s poor have never had more utility, yet they are just as miserable as ever and riot to prove it.

The Church

The Church cannot bring Zion. The priests and spiritual leaders will tell you . . . the Church will tell you . . . that it is good to be a capitalist. Perhaps you can help the Church with your great and giving donations. Perhaps you can afford to bring up more children, to serve in politics, to afford to be a mission president, or a general authority, to donate to causes . . . all worthwhile things . . . but will it save you? Will it save your children. Will it save others? Will your tithes do such a thing? Tithing supports business operations of churches. It does not go primarily to help the poor. Sometimes those donations are used indirectly to help the Church build up more capital. The Church is a corporate organization–it may have no board, but the Fifteen are indeed board of directors with a corporate sole who is entitled to make ALL decisions–in the hands of the President of the Church.

In building grand malls, investing real estate, and even building chapels, what does it do to help the poor, the sick and afflicted? Is it better to use tithing funds to build ordinances houses, which aside from the temple, are not mandated, than to help the poor? Some say that the effort to save is in the ordinances. Some say it is a hedge against bad times. True enough. But I say that a man will not be saved from his sins with any ordinance if he does not help the poor with his tithes and offerings–TODAY. He would do better to forget his chapels, to meet in the homes of the humble, with simplicity in ordinances, offering his tithes to benefit the afflicted in the group, as well as those in the poor houses and on the streets. No . . . tithing . . . at least in its current form . . . will not bring Zion.

What IS Zion, then, you say? Is it the law of consecration? Well that’s one application, but it’s even simpler than that. Zion is ONE HEART AND ONE MIND, and THERE ARE NO POOR AMONG THEM. Thus we must ask ourselves, what can we do collectively and individually, to accomplish such an outcome?  One is salvation of the self, which brings one in harmony with the Lord, and as such a man does so, and another such a man does so, then those men will be in harmony with each other. Until that day arrives, however, great care must be taken to understand our fallen natures, our low situation, our lack of knowledge, our unbelief, and our tendency for a need to be right. We need to fight these things and be simple and say that we know not, for the Lord has not revealed such a thing to me.

The other relates to it and it’s called Grace Flow. When we undertake to help the poor, we change our natures, our hearts are softened, we are forgiven more easily, and we can retain a remission of our sins in such a thing. We pay it forward to two principle groups, those who are poor in terms of being destitute, and those who will be part of our process in building Zion. The Law of Consecration was one way to do this, and it failed as an organized system, but it does NOT need to fail individually or in smaller groups. We consecrate what the Lord tell us to. In 1830 it was all of our surplus, donated to the bishop for redistribution according to each person’s needs. People were stingy and it did not work. Instead tithing was instituted, wherein a tenth of the surplus was required instead of 100%.

Now riddle me this. If 10% of gross income from a poor widow is required, and 10% of a rich capitalist is required (assessed at tax time when he knows his net worth and not assessed on his gross receipts), are we not trampling upon the poor with this newer modern definition? Under the higher law, the one called consecration, the widow receives and does not give. Yet under the lower law, she bears the greater burden.  One says that she is blessed for her sacrifice and that is true enough, but the sacrifice is at the hands of being trammeled upon in a way that is socially compelled.  God honors the sacrifice because of His tender mercies, NOT because of a person’s obedience to a false tradition. We should be so ashamed of such endeavors.  Under what tithing SHOULD be, we consecrate 10% of our surplus (AFTER our expenses) to help the poor and to help others trying to gain stewardship themselves to pay forward. If we are so inclined and have such faith, we may consecrate all. It does not even require a mediator or a bishop since the Lord can reveal to such an one with great faith where such funds are needed.

But it’s not easy. It goes back to utility. It is in the nature of all men, that when they get a little bit of money, they seek to dig a pit for their neighbor, to gratify their lusts, to increase their own capital and holdings unrighteously, and amen to Zion or even the Priesthood of that man. Seek ye therefore riches to help the poor, then shall you be rich, and perhaps in a deeper and more profound way that may change the definition of the word, “rich.”

There are movements now ongoing where communities are meeting to attempt such endeavors.  They are not supported by institutions or religious organizations.  Such attempts threaten these organizations and their systems they have set up for their own support.  It takes faith and a courageous heart to seek these out.  I implore any to do so.

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