And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. (Moses 7:18)
My good friend Frederick and I were at City Creek Mall a few months ago having lunch. I teased him for suggesting we eat at “the great and spacious building” in the heart of Babylon, but since he was here from out of town, I “forgave” him and thought it would be an amusing experience.
As we sat eating in the restaurant, my boy was playing around and began laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. This may not seem remarkable for a young boy, but today it was. My son has a gift (sometimes a curse) of seeing beings from beyond the veil – a gift that both of my boys apparently “inherited” from me. My friend – who clearly has this gift as well, declared, “there are angels around him, that’s why he’s laughing”.
He also said that my boy had a white glow about him. I have been told that about my son by a few “sighted” friends. You see, my boy was born with Down Syndrome, and some people see much more than the physical and mental differences in him; they see his spiritual maturity and Godly gifts.
He got up and played in the windowsill next to our table, and was laughing and pointing at things outside – I wonder if he may have been seeing more of his “friends”.
After lunch, we went outside so my boy could play by the fountain while Frederick and I talked. As we were sitting there, a beggar woman came up to us and began telling us her story, and asked for some money to help. Without even thinking (or counting), my friend pulled out all he had in cash – which was probably about $5. He and I looked at each other and without a need for words, expressed that we “knew” who she was. My son left the fountain, walked up to this dirty, “homeless” woman and started patting her leg before he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her and expressed his love for her…. he KNEW her, and he loved her. He is a friendly and outgoing boy, but it was unusual for him to abruptly leave the focus of his play to show love like this for a complete stranger on the street. He recognized her – and that she was an angel of God.
She graciously thanked us for the help and said goodbye. I looked at my friend and started crying; I knew that my boy knew she was a heavenly being too. It was just so awesome – we had 3 witnesses! I don’t know if she might have been a translated being or what form she was in, but it was clear that she was there on a mission from God, and she was not dwelling the same tabernacle of clay most of us are housed in right now. It was truly an amazing experience.
A few minutes after this woman left us, my friend began sobbing. I didn’t understand why at first so I just held him and tried to offer him comfort. He finally said: “Someone rejected her….”.
Then I understood the reason for his upset; he saw someone across the walkway brush her off and refuse to help her when she asked. He sat there and cried for probably 5 minutes, and talked about how “they just don’t get it” and how we are so utterly damned and wicked…. It broke my heart to see HIS heart breaking. I see this kind of thing all the time downtown – ESPECIALLY outside the temple, so I wonder if he just isn’t as used to it as I am. I’ve done my share of sobbing about the poor being rejected too. I’ve also lived it myself recently – being rejected in the same way by the church. He is right though, we as a church, are utterly damned. We epitomize Mormon, chapter 8. I was reminded of these verses that day:
“And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.” (Mormon 8:36-41)
This woman was rejected and refused help – in the most expensive edifice in Utah, where the richest of the rich; people from across the country; the “elite”, come to shop, and where the headquarters of “God’s true church” is purported to be. She was rejected and cast off like a leper in this place that is owned by that church, as we sat just across the street from the temple. We sat in the same place the leader of our church declared “Let’s go shopping!” before cutting the ribbon to open this place of idol worship and watched as the shoppers did just that – and thought of nothing but themselves and their new purchases. Why do we not understand the amazing blessings available to us if we choose to be part of another kingdom; one not of this world? If only we could learn to ignore the temporary enticements of this telestial world, we would leap at the opportunity to heed the words of the Savior as He said:
“Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:22-25)
I’ve heard enough times, the argument against giving to panhandlers and beggars – the one that says: “we are told by the brethren not to give to those begging outside the temple because not only does it bring in the rif-raff, but it does nothing more than contribute to their drinking or drug habits, or enable them to remain in their circumstances”. The Lord, however, has been utterly clear about how He expects us to treat the poor and extend the pure love of Christ without judgment. I love the way he expressed these expectations through the prophet King Benjamin:
“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (Mosiah 4:16-19)
As I was finishing up this post, I noticed Denver Snuffer posted on his blog this morning, about the same topic, and quoted from the same section of Mosiah. He notes that King Benjamin was adamant that as soon as the people were converted unto the Lord and had taken that covenant upon themselves, their first and highest priority was the care of the poor – and without judgment. If you are reading this now, please take a moment to also read Denver’s comments HERE.
How quickly we forget after our 20 min/day scripture reading ritual, that the poor fisherman we worship as our Christ and our Savior, spent His ministry among the poor, the needy, the fatherless, the homeless, the sick and afflicted, the thieves, the prostitutes, and those regarded as the lout of society – extending charity and the pure love of Christ TO THEM. We forget that it was the rich and the prideful and the selfish who received His chastisement, not those in need. We forget – as we walk in our freshly pressed suits and new Sunday dresses with our temple bags in hand, and turn the other way as we pretend not see them there begging, “alms for the poor…”. The church and community programs set up to aid in helping the poor are not enough! I could fill this post with more scriptures to demonstrate the importance of this topic to our very exaltation than most of us would read in one sitting. But the bottom line is this: we have a PERSONAL responsibility to ensure that no one among us is left in need.
Will we continue to reject the poor and needy and allow the scales over our eyes continue to grow and multiply – as we also reject ministring angels from God before us? Will we continue to disregard His words and warnings given to us in our very own scriptures, and replace them with policy and procedure? Will we continue to reject the very formula outlined for us in the scriptures that allowed the multitude in 3rd and 4th Nephi to live on as a Zion society for over 200 years; the same formula that enabled the City of Enoch to live as Zion for 365 years before they were translated, and brought to Heaven – as they embraced the principles the Savior taught and lived?
I am grateful for the experiences the Lord has allowed me to have that taught me these things from perspectives I would not have been able to see otherwise. I testify that angels and translated beings ARE here among us doing God’s work, and acting as witnesses against us – or on our behalf, as we go about our lives. I testify that my son, my friend and I encountered a few of these beings that day – who are testing and measuring our actions. I testify too, that the last days are now. If we do not turn from the wickedness of Babylon and repent, then we as a church will remain under condemnation and will be burned as the tares. We MUST have no poor among us in order to be saved from being swept off. I pray that I will be endowed with the strength I need to cast off this natural flesh, and completely embrace the Fullness of the Gospel and become like my Savior. I pray that the Lord will lead me to those I can help and minister to and serve. I know that no matter my circumstances, there is always someone more in need than myself, and I always have enough to give.