If thou wilt be perfect…

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Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

I’ve heard people say it’s impossible to be perfect in this life. Yet Jesus Christ taught us precisely how we may become perfect. Like the young man who told Jesus that he kept all the statutes and commandments from his childhood up, we reason within ourselves that we are doing enough. We judge ourselves by our own standards and our own best intentions. He gave to us three parables in Matthew chapter 25 to illustrate what He meant.

  • Parable of the Ten Virgins
  • Parable of the Talents
  • Parable of the Sheep and Goats

In the parable of the virgins, the Lord uses virgins to imply a virtuous life and faithfulness to Him. After all, He is the bridegroom come to the wedding feast. But five were foolish because they had no oil in their lamps. Throughout scripture, oil has represented the Holy Spirit. Olives are pressed for their oil, which give light. As a side note, in the parable of the good Samaritan, the Samaritan (representing Jesus Christ) used oil and wine to succor the “fallen man”, the oil representing the Holy Spirit and the wine representing His blood, both symbolic of His atoning sacrifice and both of which heal us from our sins and make us whole again. The foolish virgins not wanting to miss out on the wedding feast, had to go away and find those who would provide oil for them.

So how is it that Christians miss out on filling their lamps? The answer is simple. The poor, the beggars, the downtrodden are no longer available to provide the opportunity to exchange oil for succor. In other words, each time you help someone in need, you are filled more and more with the Holy Spirit and thus are sanctified. But those who give their lives to Jesus Christ, being filled with His love, give freely to those who are in need without judgment and with no thought of reward. I know many people do not give because they rationalize that the money will be wasted away. Yet each time we beg God forgiveness of our sins, He freely forgives us, though we sin again and again every day. If God judged us the way many judge the poor, none of us would be saved. We all squander our forgiveness. And so the foolish virgins, though virtuous and faithful in keeping the Lord’s statutes and commandments, forget that they were purged of their old sins as the apostle Peter described, and showing no love to the downtrodden, miss out on the wedding feast because the door was shut.

The parable of the Talents is more obvious. There are three scenes, one of stewardship, one of accounting and one of reward. The kingdom of heaven was a man traveling to a far country. Jesus Christ was the kingdom of heaven on earth for a small period of time. He left His work in the capable hands of His servants who were expected to produce an increase of goods. This parable is about what we do with the kinds of servants we are. Some of us are very talented and capable, while some of us are limited in our abilities, but still have as much desire to serve as those who are much more gifted. And then there are those who waste their time in idleness and idolatry. In today’s world, this comes in many forms, but probably mostly entertainment, pastimes, etc. where laziness and apathy is fostered. Of course one can be highly productive, but selfish, becoming rich only to prosper alone. There is another parable that addresses this, but is not relevant to this entry. There is nothing wrong with becoming rich, though, if we use our wealth to lift others up.

The final parable is clear. Sheep know their Shepherd’s voice and follow Him. Goats have no master and do not come when called. And what is the result of one who possesses the Holy Spirit? One whose lamp is brimming with oil? One who labors not for worldly things, but for the Lord? It is to have the love of Jesus Christ in our hearts. And when one truly has this love, he or she will love all, even the least of God’s children. Or as we read in the parable:

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

It bears mentioning that Jesus Christ did not come into the world a wealthy heir of riches, finery, and palaces. He was born a nobody by worldly standards in the most impoverished circumstances. He carried no purse or scrip during His ministry and relied on the charity of those He served–everyone.

Yet He was perfect. And so he taught us how to become perfect in His sermon on the mount, which includes His admonition for us to “be ye therefore perfect…”

Maybe that young man who declined to sell all his possessions and follow Jesus gave generously to the treasury in the temple and thought himself good enough for giving abundantly. There’s a story about this.

Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

This observation by the Lord to me was not so much about the widow’s extreme poverty, but an indictment of everyone else.

It is possible to be perfect as the Lord defines it, if one does perfectly what He hast taught. And then shall one have riches in heaven.

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The Fellowship of the Unashamed

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Despite Google and all of the research available on the internet to us today I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the story or the origin of this note. Here are two:

· Dr. Robert Morehead tells the story a young man from Rwanda, A missionary with Africa Evangelical Fellowship, who was forced by his tribe in 1980 to renounce Christ or face death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was murdered on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room:

· The following is often attributed to an anonymous source but its origin can be traced to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) retreat in Black Mountain, NC in 1966. This confession, ostensibly authored by several attendees, found wider circulation after it was found in the home of an African pastor who had been martyred for his commitment to Christ some years ago.

The author is unknown, but is believed to be a young pastor in Zimbabwe who was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. It was found in his study:

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made — I’m a disciple of his. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.”

“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in his presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.”

“My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.”

“I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me … my banner will be clear.”

A Tale of Two Comforters.

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John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Jesus Christ promised to personally comfort any who seek to come to Him. His disciple asked how Jesus would show Himself.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught in no uncertain terms what is required.

Matthew 7:

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

But what is this gate that leads to eternal life? Jesus answered this question when posed to Nicodemus.

John 3:Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

A prophet who descended from the tribe of Joseph wrote in his own record in plainness what this gate is, verifying Jesus’ teachings:

2 Nephi 31:16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

Nephi’s walk is illustrated in his two books. It is the overarching narrative expressed in his father’s vision of the tree of life. The world is the large and spacious field we read about in 1 Nephi chapter 8. Once one enters in at the gate, which is repentance and baptism of water, THEN comes the remission of sins.

So now Nephi has established by his own life’s experience and his father’s vision of the tree of life that entering the gate is receiving the First Comforter, even the Holy Ghost. Nephi, continues the narrative:

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

tree-of-life

As we read in 1 Nephi 8, linked above, if one endures to the end of the path along the iron rod, one finally comes to the tree of life. It is the inevitable consequence of traveling a straight path between two points–between receiving the Holy Ghost and then receiving Jesus Christ. At the end of the path, the rod ends. One falls to the ground to partake of the fruit of one’s labors of pressing forward with the love of God and of ALL men. If one has the Love of God and all men (TWO greatest commandments/Golden Rule), one becomes like Christ. And what is the inevitable result of becoming like Christ?

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Or as Jesus expressed directly to one of his disciples, as I have quoted above:

John 14: 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Both the Father and the Son visit him. And we see evidence of this in Nephi’s life, as expressed in the same chapter mentioned above:

2 Nephi 31:14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

As mentioned above, if one loves God and all men, one will retain a remission of one’s sins as King Benjamin taught:

Mosiah 4:12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due…

He goes on to teach:

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

Jesus gave three parables in Matthew chapter 25 about those who did and did not love all men. To summarize, He declared:

Matthew 25:

31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Therefore as one presses forward along the straight and narrow path with the Love of God in one’s heart toward all men, being merciful as God is merciful, one inevitably, finds oneself partaking of the fruit of his labors and finds rest. Thus to partake of the fruit of the tree of life is to gain eternal salvation, which is to make one’s calling and election sure. It is to personally receive comfort from the God of all the earth, even Jesus Christ, an anchor to the soul. It is to receive the Second Comforter. It is to be sealed up by the calling of His voice. The apostle Peter said the same:

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things,ye shall never fall

Peter acknowledges that it is the love of God and of all men, which results in knowing Jesus Christ. This doesn’t just mean knowing about Him, or reading about Him. It means actually knowing Him. Talking with Him. Seeing Him. But whoso lacks the qualities Peter lists is blind and cannot see afar off. He loses that perfect brightness of hope. He forgets that he was baptized with fire, which brings about the remission of his sins. Therefore, it is imperative to press forward to obtain the “knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” as Peter taught in his epistle.

Knowledge saves. We cannot be saved in ignorance. In other words, we cannot be saved without knowing WHO it is that saves us. Knowing Jesus Christ is parting the veil, which keeps us from His presence because of unbelief. It is this veil, as Paul teaches the Corinthians in his second epistle, that is done away in Christ. It is being redeemed from the fall of Adam. It is the end result of entering in at the way, which is the gate spoken of above and pressing forward until one reaches the end. Most give up. Most wander off in unbelief. Some end up in the great and spacious building and point fingers and mock those who have pressed forward and reached the tree to partake of eternal salvation.

In summary dear reader, to be born of the Spirit occurs upon entering in at the gate, which is the beginning of the journey to come unto Christ–literally. But your journey is NOT over until you press forward to receive the greatest gift, even eternal life, which is to KNOW Jesus Christ who then makes His abode with you. When you enter in at the gate, you are blessed with the Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, being born of the Spirit. And if and when you finally arrive at the end of the straight and narrow path, you are blessed with the Second Comforter, even Jesus Christ, thus becoming fruitful in the knowledge of He who is mighty to save.

1 Corinthians 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Faith (and fear)

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Only two people ever walked on water, that is if you believe the Bible. But that is the point, isn’t it? Believing. On the fourth watch of the night, or at 3 am, after having  been tossed about at sea, Jesus Christ who had stayed behind the previous evening on land to pray on a mountain, appeared to them, having caught up to them by walking on the water. When His disciples saw Him, they cried out for fear. But Jesus quickly told them to be of good cheer, that it was Him, and He calmed their fears.

Peter, upon testing Jesus, immediately said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Without hesitation, the Lord granted Peter’s request and bid him come out on the water to Him. So Peter took a step into the unknown out in the darkness, not knowing whether Jesus or some spirit beckoned him. He had exercised enough faith to press forward and trust the voice of who he hoped it was. As Peter began walking, the wind became boisterous and Peter became afraid. When his faith turned to fear, he began to sink and cried out for rescue. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ then immediately caught Peter, saving him from death and exclaimed to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Many experiences have taught me that listening to the Lord often brings me to a point where I have to choose whether or not to step out into the unknown. Fear of being hurt or deceived is enough to paralyze a person. I have also learned that each time I exercised faith and took a step forward, I did not fall. I have come to firmly believe that if I misstep, the Lord is there to catch me and preserve me from death. And I have been preserved from death before. But this isn’t about living and dying. This is about loving God enough to trust Him and His voice alone. I am sure that when Peter stepped down onto the water, he did not turn to the right or the left. And that is something to consider for another time. I am sure that he walked directly toward Jesus.

I know many people who believe in God, but do not believe God. They believe He exists, but do not believe His words or are not familiar with His words. Many are distracted by the cares of the world to keep His sayings diligently or they fear being hurt. People fear being hurt especially when they experience a contradiction of things. Walking on water contradicts the law of gravity as we know it. Despite everything scientists understand about gravity, none have been able to determine what causes it. There is a theory of relativity used to explain it, but it’s just that-a theory. This physical world is governed by many physical laws, one of them being gravity. If you step off a cliff, you fall until something stops your fall and it’s usually the solid ground below. Likewise, if you step out of a perfectly good boat onto the water, you will sink until something solid stops your descent.

If you take Jesus Christ out of the equation, then you are left to the natural course of things in life. However, if you come unto Christ as He invited all to do, He will catch you if you start to fall. He is a merciful God who gently corrects errors and false beliefs, but He does not leave you alone. The inevitable outcome of following Him, though, is losing your life. That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Jesus Christ is life, right? But if you are a student of the scriptures, you might find out about a certain rich man who went away sorrowing because although he kept the law since he was a youth, he would not give up his riches to follow Christ. Rather than having faith, he feared. The rich man preferred the life he lived. It was preferable for him to keep all the things he had worked so hard to obtain, rather than give them all up to start a new life-a different one. His faith was in his own ability to provide for himself rather than faith in God to give him everlasting life. Thus those who seek to save their life, whatever kind of life they’re living will lose it in the grave. But those who seek to lose whatever life they are living for Christ’s sake, as He promised, will find it again, for life with Him is everlasting. The rich man was deceived by his own covetousness.

There are so many ways we can deceive ourselves into thinking it’s okay to procrastinate or ignore the call to come unto Christ, especially when He beckons. And He is always beckoning. We must push aside all the worldly obstacles and idols and false beliefs that stand between us and the Lord, including all the traditions of men, even religious traditions. Traditions do not have the power to save. Believing Jesus Christ and doing what He tells you to do is what saves. But you must first know and understand His will. If you do not know His will when He is bidding you to come out of your comfort zone, then nothing else matters. Fear and faith cannot and do not exist at the same time. You will either believe Him and exercise faith and move forward one step at a time  toward the light or fear falling with each step and remain in darkness.jesus-water

 

 

 

 

Babylon, The Final Frontier, Part 1

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I served a mission on the other side of the world and when I returned, I went to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell. I saw Babylon bigger and brighter than ever. And I partook thereof until decades later, having been born of the Spirit and experiencing a mighty change of heart, I saw with new eyes how idolatrous I had been. Back then I thought worshiping idols, at least as depicted in scripture, meant nothing more than adoring or reverencing statues as the ancient Israelites did with the golden calf built by Aaron. But it is so much more than that.

The primary commandment given to Israel was to have no other gods before the Lord. Jehovah acknowledged the existence of other gods, though they were all fictions of imagination. If we love the Lord, truly love Him, there would be no need nor even use to go whoring after anything or anyone else. But the Lord’s covenant people did so and still do so. I like what Gileadi had to say in his essay, Twelve Diatribes of Modern Israel:

The final test in the scriptures of whether a god is true or false is whether he saves his people in the Lord’s day of judgment.

And so it was:

Judges 10: 13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

Isaiah 37: 18 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only.

Jeremiah 11:11 ¶Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

And so it will be:

D&C 112:24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

Idolatry is the great obstacle. Babylon and her idols are alive and well among the Lord’s covenant people upon the mountains of Ephraim (as well as throughout the world). It is so difficult to not be stained by it all. I cannot help but dirty my hands as I contribute to feeding Mammon, though I weep for Zion. I hate money. I hate that I have to work for money in order to exist in a system, which has too great a hold of us all. The people of Limhi learned the hard way. Today there really are no more places of refuge in the world. Above all else, I am vexed by my own sinful and carnal state. I am truly my own worst enemy.

I recently came home from visiting my parents in Texas and as I drove north along I-15, I looked toward downtown SLC at all the tall buildings and also the construction going on. I remember a time when the temple was easily visible. Now it is shadowed and eclipsed by great and spacious buildings, which recently enticed the world to partake of glamorous materialism.

If those giant posters and billboards advertising to the world to come visit the heart of Salt Lake City are disturbing, even more disturbing are the overpriced brands advertised with very attractive models. But isn’t that how all commercials are? Everyone is smiling, all made up, wearing beautiful clothes in the happy settings of Utopian society.

I’m reminded of Hugh Nibley’s words in “What is Zion? A Distant View” where he says:

Elders of Israel are greedy after the things of this world. If you ask them if they are ready to build up the kingdom of God, their answer is prompt–”Why, to be sure we are, with our whole souls; but we want first to get so much gold, speculate and get rich, and then we can help the church considerably. We will go to California and get gold, go and buy goods and get rich, trade with the emigrants, build a mill, make a farm, get a large herd of cattle, and then we can do a great deal for Israel.

I have heard this many times from friends and relatives, but it is hokum. What they are saying is, “If God will give me a million dollars, I will let him have a generous cut of it.” And so they pray and speculate and expect the Lord to come through for them. He won’t do it: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property” (D&C 19:26). “Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord” (D&C 117:4). He does not need our property or our help.

Every rhetorician knows that his most effective weapons by far are labels. He can demolish the opposition with simple and devastating labels such as communism, socialism, or atheism, popery, militarism, or Mormonism, or give his clients’ worst crimes a religious glow with noble labels such as integrity, old-fashioned honesty, tough-mindedness, or free competitive enterprise. “You can get away with anything if you just wave the flag,” a business partner of my father once told me. He called that patriotism. But the label game reaches its all-time peak of skill and effrontery in the Madison Avenue master stroke of pasting the lovely label of Zion on all the most typical institutions of Babylon: Zion’s Loans, Zion’s Real Estate, Zion’s Used Cars, Zion’s Jewelry, Zion’s Supermart, Zion’s Auto Wrecking, Zion’s Outdoor Advertising, Zion’s Gunshop, Zion’s Land and Mining, Zion’s Development, Zion’s Securities–all that is quintessentially Babylon now masquerades as Zion.