Today our Sunday school class spent some time in Doctrine and Covenants 105. It was recorded in 1834, after the Zion's Camp group had trudged the long, difficult journey to Missouri and, in spite of their efforts, were completely unable to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the problem of bigotry and violent expulsion of people from Jackson County.
Before He lays out the instructions as to how they should proceed (stay a while and see if you can help, but do not resort to violence) the Lord explains why their efforts to effectuate political redress or righteous action on the part of governing officials have not been successful.
I was struck by how it may well apply to us today as well and perhaps even why some do not see how they may have contributed to where we find ourselves now, or the fallout in the near future.
"They [members of the church in general] have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
"And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
"And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law if the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
"And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience [to celestial law], if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer....
"Behold [they say that God] will deliver [the poor and the afflicted] in time if trouble, [so] we will not go up into Zion, and will keep our moneys.
"Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine leaders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion, that they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly their duty, and the things which I require at their hands."
Larry Barkdull has an interesting article on what "the law of the celestial kingdom" means HERE. In a nutshell it is love of God and fellow men, a belief that all things belong to God and that we are stewards thereof, a willingness to create unity by esteeming others as ourselves, exercising agency wisely, setting aside selfishness and seeking equality according to wants, needs and family situations, being accountable to God for the responsibilities to which he has entrusted us, exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, embracing the teachings of Jesus, seeking to end poverty in our communities, and the use of priesthood power to bless and assist those who are physically or mentally or emotionally ill or in need. (The last one is what they were counseled specifically as a first step to while they spent the last bit of time in Missouri).
So, as my country heads into a political situation where my people, including many of those who profess to know Christ, find themselves faced with (and in many cases actually having voted for) newly appointed or elected politicians who apparently do not listen and are not interested in listening to or responding to the afflictions of people who are victims of violence and bigotry ( in the 1834 situation, one of them was my great, great grandmother, along with her parents and siblings, and another was Lewis's great, great grandfather, with his wife and their two little children--now it is others), I see parallels.
Though there are many, many leaders and members of my faith who do understand what living a celestial law means, I think that by and large there are far, far too many of us who "have not learned to be obedient to the things which [He has] required" of us, that many of us harden our hearts to imparting of our substance to the poor and afflicted as becometh saints. And we are certainly not united in a Celestial manner, but are constantly having to be reminded over the pulpit to stop judging or resenting each other and be more charitably inclined and to step up our wise use of priesthood power to bless and help others, and consecrate our lives more fully to a celestial law level. And so, it seems we are in for some chastening, learning things the hard way "by the things which we suffer".
I hope we believers, learn quickly as we are "taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly [our] duty, and the things which [God] require[s] at [our] hands". If I were a church leader, having figuratively slogged my way to Missouri with my very human cohorts, and feeling the intransigence of those members who refused to leave their comfort zone and help, I certainly would feel my patience being tried as I "wait for a season...that [I] may be prepared". I suspect that many of them do.