What I am about to say today is pretty bold, but I think it’s important enough that I’m going to stick my neck out anyway. For me, these thoughts opened up a lot of understanding, and cleared up a lot of confusion.
In my mind, of the four questions included in the proposed covenant being offered this weekend, the most essential one is the third one:
Do you agree to assist all others who covenant to likewise accept this standard to govern their lives to keep the Lord’s will, to succor those who stand in need, to lighten the burdens of your brothers and sisters whenever you are able, and to help care for the poor among you?
This describes what I think is the cornerstone of Zion – having no poor among us. The paragraph could be restated as “Do you agree to have no poor among you?” If we can accomplish this one requirement, everything else follows. Being of one heart and one mind? Check. Christ walking among us? Check. Leaving babylon behind? Check. Knowing the Lord? Check. I repeat that this is my opinion – that having no poor among us is the ultimate goal, and if we can do all that we need to do to make this happen, all the other characteristics of Zion are either requirements for or results of this one component of the covenant.
Before I continue to the point of this post, I want to share a few foundational thoughts. The first is that poverty, or “the poor”, referenced in the above-quoted 3rd question, is not limited to those who lack money or temporal sustenance. It very much involves spiritual as well as temporal poverty. The individual who is struggling with thoughts of divorce is perhaps just as poor as the single mother who doesn’t have money to pay this month’s rent. The child who is trying mightily to understand the significance of baptism is just as much in need as the adult whose cell-phone is broken – a cell-phone which provides their most effective form of communication with friends and family.
Some have expressed their belief that we don’t need a group covenant, that engaging in such is presumptuous at best, and a strong man’s attempt to satisfy his own ego by creating LDS 2.0 at worst. I have struggled myself with these concerns. I don’t any more, because I now understand that you can’t have “no poor among us” without having a community – a group. My wife and I can have “no poor among us” simply by sharing a single bank account, and that’s a start. This way, at least, if we’re poor, we’re equally poor. In a sense, it is Zion, but it’s not the Zion that we seek; the Zion prophesied in the scriptures; the Zion to which the city of Enoch will return and among whom Christ will dwell. No, this Zion that we seek must be a community who have learned to have no poor among them. It can be no other way.
No poor among us is the ultimate goal for a heavenly society. It’s not just that everyone has their temporal survival needs met. It’s so much more than that. It’s the manifestation of the Pure Love of Christ. It’s exactly what a society would be like if it were populated by a thousand Christs. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we must become – a community of Christs!
Finally, I believe that this covenant is a doorway through which we must step that will lead to having no poor among us, and ultimately to Zion. I believe that this covenant will call for us to become a community of Christs. I believe that anything less will be the farce that some have predicted.
All of which brings us to the subject of Denver Snuffer – or, more accurately, to the image of Denver Snuffer that we have created among us – and ultimately to the point of this post.
It is no secret that the image of Denver that is perpetuated among us varies from him being a knowledgeable scholar who opened many eyes to an alternative understanding of the narrative of the restoration to him being the Davidic servant – the prophesied “one mighty and strong”. In truth, he might be both and everything in between or he might be something else entirely. After all, the title is only applied after the work is done. One thing I can assure you, even though I don’t know him personally, is that Denver the man is just that – a man – a man with feelings, needs, fears, loves, weaknesses and strengths. Many of us have put him on a pedestal that he has professed not to have sought. I choose to take him at his word. I also choose to appreciate the service he has offered thus far in this journey, and to believe that he has honestly done the best he knew how to do given the task that he accepted from the Lord. I choose also to think that someone needed to offer a prayer for this covenant (if it was to come about – I don’t think a committee could have done it) and to receive the covenant itself by revelation, and that Denver was a very likely candidate to do that on behalf of the group. I choose to believe that this was a simple act of service, and I have no objection to the product of his efforts.
Now – the bold part. I think Denver’s role is going to change. I think it has to if we are going to achieve no poor among us. I think he has served faithfully, and many among us have responded to his service in the way the Lord hoped we would, but now – when we step through the door of this covenant, the dynamics are going to have to change. Having no poor among us requires an incremental change in the hearts of every single individual. It requires forsaking our love for and dependence upon (worship of?) material goods. It requires overcoming jealousies and fears. It requires looking upon others and seeing the Christ within us, and treating each individual as we would treat Christ. This is dramatic! Please, don’t just pass over what I just said. Think about it. We need to treat each other the same way we would treat Christ if He were standing in front of us! If we do this, we will necessarily become the community of Christs that is Zion.
We cannot look to another man or woman to help us do this. We can only look to Christ.
There is not a person among us, including Denver, who is prepared for this. Once we have accepted this covenant, we will all be on equal footing. All the scholarship and study in the world, no matter who you are, will prepare you for the change that we must undergo as a result of this covenant, as a result of committing ourselves to having no poor among us. No matter what strengths we have, no matter what weaknesses we have, no matter what deep, dark secrets we might be harboring that nobody else knows about…the leap from where we are today to where we must rise if we are to fulfill this covenant is so great that we must all rise together, or we will all fall together. We can no longer look to Denver the way we have in the past. We must stand side by side – all of us, sharing equal responsibility, carrying as much of each others burdens as possible – or “whenever you are able”. Denver’s burdens will be just as great as those of anyone else. To the extent that he is “able”, I hope he will seek to help lighten your burden, but we must be equally eager to help lighten his. I hope it is clear at this point that what I am saying about Denver applies to any who have evolved into a perceived leadership role among this community.
Please, I do not seek to denigrate or minimize anyone by saying these things. I do not seek to predispose anyone’s future. I just hope to heighten our awareness and perhaps provide a unique viewpoint of what lies ahead. I hope to encourage all of us to look to the heavens – high in the heavens, probably higher than we’ve ever looked before – to anticipate and seek after the glory that awaits us if we live up to this covenant. Miracles – even the greatest of miracles, that of oneness with Christ and with each other – await us, but our hearts must rise to the occasion. Ask, and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Honestly, this scripture suddenly takes on meaning far beyond anything I had understood before today.
I don’t know how all of this is going to play out. I don’t know how we will end up working together or what the mechanics will look like. The Lord will certainly lead us – if we will let Him. Some might consider these ideas to be too idealistic to become reality. To that, I respond, “Zion must be a miracle! It is a heightened state of existence. We cannot do it by ourselves. It can only be done through the hand of the Lord.” In the scenario I describe above, we must each individually seek to rise to this new level of existence. We must have this vision, and then, with the assistance of heaven, constantly compare ourselves – every thought, every action, every desire – to the standard offered – to the covenant we have entered into. Doing so will unleash the power of love, enabling each of us to ascend to Zion, and as a community of Christs, establish the heavenly society that truly has “no poor among us”.