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Establishing Zion

During the 19th century, Latter-day Saints aspired to create model Christian communities like those described in the scriptures, where members held their possessions in common (Acts 2:44-45; 4 Ne. 1:1-3). The Book of Moses calls this kind of society "Zion"—a people who are one in heart and among whom there are no poor (Moses 7:18). The Saints' efforts to establish Zion reflected a radical commitment to the teaching that serving Christ means ministering to people in physical want (D&C 42:30-31, 38; Matt. 25:31-40). The Saints' Zion-building efforts also put into practice the teaching that all our substance is a gift from God to be imparted to those in need (Mosiah 4:16-22). Although the Saints failed to live up to the Zion ideal, we still embrace the ideal as one of our temple covenants.

The scriptures of the Restoration are emphatic in preaching economic equality. A celestial life, we are told, requires people to be equal in temporal, not only spiritual, things (D&C 78:6-7). The fact that some people possess more than others causes the world to lie in sin (D&C 49:20). God’s plan for stewardship calls for distributing the earth’s goods on the basis of need, lifting up the poor by bringing low the rich (D&C 104:15-18). These teachings push the Saints to work toward eliminating poverty in the name of equality, justice, and Christ-like love. At a bare minimum, the monthly fast is an occasion to practice solidarity with the poor and, in some small way, to redistribute our resources based on people's needs.

Related Topics:
One in Christ    

 Because I Have Been Given Much  (Hymns 219)

 I see a world where every man's a brother.
 I see a world where every man will share.
 I see a world where not one soul is left alone or cold,
 a world where every man is loved and clothed and fed. . . .
 A little more love will make it happen,
 a little less me and a little more you,
 a little more love.
Carol Lynn Pearson, The Order Is Love (1971)

James H. Moyle: Revolution is threatening this very nation because of the unsatisfied demand of the many for social justice, or as we would put it, the lack of brotherly love that the Savior advocated when he said to the wealthy young man, "Give unto the poor that which thou hast." Under his inspiration his followers established a Christian socialistic system in which there were no poor and no rich but all things were held in common. That same system was revealed anew and an attempt made to establish it by the great prophet of this age, Joseph Smith.

Conference Report, October 1931, 40-41

Hugh Nibley: For the last days everyone has been invited to work for the kingdom with singleness of purpose and to enjoy the free lunch of the Saints. . . . The extra food on the rich man's table does not belong to him, says King Benjamin, but to God, and he wants the poor man to have it (Mosiah 4:22). The moral imperative of the work-ethic is by no means the eternal law we assume it to be, for it rests on a completely artificial and cunningly contrived theory of property. . . .

[T]he world as we know it is the very antithesis of Zion, in which we should all be living at this very moment. I have cited a few passages from the Pearl of Great Price, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants to show that whether we like it or not, in all those five dispensations of the gospel the free lunch was prescribed for all living under the covenant, and at the same time very special kinds of work were assigned to each and all of them, the object of which was not lunch but the building up of the kingdom and the establishment of Zion. Our real temporal wants, we have been told repeatedly, are few, and they are taken care of by the law of consecration. . . . No one is more completely "of the world" than one who lives by the world's economy, whatever his display of open piety.

"Work We Must, but the Lunch Is Free," Approaching Zion (Salt Lake City & Provo:
Deseret Book & FARMS, 1989), 238-39, 241-42, 248-49

Derek A. Cuthbert: More than half of the people in the world live in countries where the per capita income is less than three hundred dollars—not per week or per month, but per year. In some countries in Africa, it is less than one hundred dollars per year. We must reorient ourselves to become a Zion society with one heart and one mind and no poor among us.

From Every Nation: Faith-promoting Personal Stories of General Authorities
from Around the World
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 78

Alexander B. Morrison: But is the establishment of Zion only a golden dream, forever unobtainable, ever receding before us like an illusion? To the Latter-day Saints, who believe in the eventual perfectibility of mankind, there can be a Zion on earth, as there has been already, albeit only twice, and that but briefly. We are thus under sacred obligation to awake, arise, and get to work; to make its attainment "our greatest object"; to "push many people to Zion with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads." (D&C 66:11.) . . . As always, the greatest and most difficult task will be to change ourselves.

Visions of Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 17-18

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