As I studied about the principle of Zion this past week, I didn’t feel peace. Instead, I felt exhaustion and a sense of dread—I thought if Christ were to appear He wouldn’t find a Zion people. Instead, He’d find a world full of rage and turmoil, and His people caught up with it.
I recognize how hard it is to get a proper perspective when we’re bombarded by tactics meant to stir up the furor and ensure we feel as whipped up into a frenzy as possible. It’s important to take a breath and look at the future with hope. Many good and faithful people seek Zion today, striving to build connections rather than fuel contention.
However, I don’t think many would deny that modern rage hasn’t touched them in some way. It was prophesied that in the last days “the whole earth shall be in commotion” and “the love of men shall wax cold.” We see contention becoming a way of life for many. The Lord described the people of Zion as being of “one heart and one mind.” How can we achieve one heart and one mind as the Lord’s people with such problems facing us?
The Divinity of God’s Children
To begin seeking Zion today, we must return to seeing everyone around us and especially on the other side of the screen as a divine being. It is so much easier to viciously attack others when we do not see them as a child of God. We often justify our own anger and cruelty towards others with the false notion that we are defending the gospel and sharing truth in a passionate way. We cannot bring others to Zion when we care more about sharing our opinions than testifying of God’s truth that all of His children are worthy of respect and love, even when they act in a way that is contrary to our beliefs or even inflammatory.
We can begin to reaffirm divinity in our daily lives by asking ourselves throughout the day, “Am I treating this person like a child of God? Is this how Jesus would talk to them?”
Seeking the Specific Medicine of Loving Our Neighbors
The Lord has called us to many great works. It can be overwhelming at times to try and find the balance between the things we’ve been asked to do. When confronted with specific latter-day ills, it is wise to seek specific gospel medicine by prioritizing one gospel principle over another until healing has taken place. For example, we are asked to share and defend the gospel. We are also commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Which one should we prioritize in a society prone to fighting with one another?
In this great time of argument and disputation, the medicine we need right now is charity and love. When confronted with contentions chat threads or attacking questions, it may be worth pausing and refraining. It may be more important to turn the other cheek and walk away. The Spirit of God cannot defend truth where contention is rampant. As I shared earlier, “When Jesus came to the earth, He did not raise up an army of people to combat the opposition. He didn’t instruct His disciples on oration and how to win arguments. He didn’t draw up battle plans, plot against His enemies, or even reroute His path away from Samaria. He came with a radically different way of looking at the world and at each other.
He called for love and showed us the most effective way to spread His gospel was simply by living it. Don’t choose what you think is a great battle plan instead of welcoming someone into the fold.”
How can we walk ourselves back from the ledge of hatred and focus on building bridges and seeking connections? We build connections by:
- Actively listening to others without a focus on what we’re going to say
- Praying for increased love and opportunities to connect
- Seeking to find similarities between each other, rather than differences
Disconnect with Social Media to Connect with God
For years we have been warned about the negative effects of social media and technology on our spiritual health. The role social media has played in prodding us to hatred and vitriol cannot be overstated. It is time we make a concentrated effort on detoxing from the maddening internet culture we believe we have control over and turn back to building Zion through spirit-filled and spirit-led interactions. Our family, our friends, our ward members, our co-workers, and our communities are not by accident. We have a divine call to help one another. There are people to be placed in our path that need to be invited to Zion. While social media can be a useful tool, so many of us need to focus on regaining the spirit of love and charity so that we can use such tools appropriately.
Finding Zion In Ourselves
It’s important to remember that Zion is built by the state of our hearts and that is something we can control for ourselves. While we want to impact the world and build Zion as a literal community of God’s children, we can find inner peace within ourselves. This can be achieved by turning to Christ, building a relationship with Him, and by striving to follow His example.
Zion Is Not Lost
I believe in the cause of Zion. I know it isn’t lost, though we may often have moments of hopelessness as we face the rage of a world in turmoil. It is our duty as covenant children of God to be the peacemakers and to be the testifies of who we all really are and what we can achieve. The world needs that in abundance and we can’t provide it if we get lured into the fray. Brother David R. Stone taught us well when he said, “We do not need to become as puppets in the hands of the culture of the place and time. We can be courageous and can walk in the Lord’s paths and follow His footsteps. And if we do, we will be called Zion, and we will be the people of the Lord.”