As the world divides itself along the lines of gender, race, religion, political opinion, social and economic status, disciples of Jesus Christ are expected to become one.
In Moses 7, Enoch is astonished to see the God of Heaven weeping over his children. Enoch is so surprised at this scene that he asks, 'How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?' (Moses 7:28-31). Seeing the God of the universe weeping over His children is something that Enoch did not expect. In response, God replied, 'Unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood' (Moses 7:33). It is their rejection of God and inability [or refusal] to love one another that causes the heavens to weep. God then explains that 'the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands;’ and asks, ‘should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?' (Moses 7:37). The sins that cause such lamenting in the world and the heavens are those in direct opposition to what Christ described as the greatest of all the commandments, Love God and love your neighbour (Matthew 22:27-30).
In contrast, '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). When we love God and our neighbour as ourselves, we become one. Zion will be built in no other way.
We Love God Because He First Loved Us
Jesus taught that to know God 'is life eternal' (John 17:3). In this life, there are significant obstacles in coming to know God. As mentioned in the Come, Follow Me lesson, 'Some people see God as a distant being who isn't emotionally affected by what happens to us' (Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022, January 24-30) . The reasons for this are as diverse as the human experience. The question we often ask is “why?” Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? Why has God allowed such extreme inequality in the world? Why would a loving God set up a world so radically unfair?
We are not the first to ask these questions. Remember the servant of the Lord of the vineyard in the olive tree allegory of Zenos? To preserve the good fruit of His vineyard [good deeds and desires], the Lord took a few 'young and tender branches’ from the main tree, which had become corrupt. He placed them ‘in the nethermost part of [His] vineyard' (Jacob 5:13). After 'a long time [had] passed away' (Jacob 5:15), the Lord brought his servant to the places where they had been planted. After seeing one such location, the servant immediately asked, 'How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard' (Jacob 5:21).
In response, the Lord did not argue about the assessment of the type of ground that had been chosen. He freely admitted what the servant had observed. 'Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also, and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree. I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit' (Jacob 5:22-23).
God knows that His children have been placed in many circumstances, some good, some poor, and some very poor. Regardless of these circumstances, God will nourish us and provide opportunities to develop and grow. Yes, the innocent will suffer, inequality exists, and life is unfair. But among those who love God, who can dispute His goodness? The comfort, peace, and guidance of His nourishing hand, are indescribable. His hand is stretched out 'all the day long' (Jacob 6:4). As I ponder the goodness of God and his tender mercies in my life, I am humbled by what I have experienced.
Love Thy Neighbour
Indeed, as the scripture says, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Regardless of our circumstances in life, let us choose to love our Father in Heaven. “Then [can] we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).
As we are filled with the love of God, our hearts will naturally reach outward in love and compassion for others. We will have a greater capacity to see the divinity in all of our brothers and sisters. We will also begin to recognize the inequality that exists along the path of discipleship. The Lord describes this inequality in the following parable:
' Let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?' (Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-26).
Just as we might begin to think how awful this father is, we read this surprising admission in the following verse: 'Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine' (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27; emphasis added).
God wants us to become one, yet He admits that 'the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons' (Doctrine and Covenants 38:16).
When Enoch saw God weeping, it was because the people had refused His invitation to choose Him as their Father. In addition, they refused to love and serve one another.
This is a great sin of our time. We live in an age when other pursuits are more important than helping those in need. This is why we see the division and dissension so abundant in our society. As a society, we are beginning to reap the rewards of pursuing such a path.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, let us show gratitude to our Father in Heaven for the opportunities that He has given. If we find success in life, let us turn our attention to those struggling in a poorer spot in the vineyard. If you find yourself in a poor spot, remember that God can help those in whatever circumstance bring forth good fruit.
God understands perfectly the inequalities that exist in this life. He is our Father. He will nourish us and help us turn our attention to each other rather than to ourselves. If we choose Him, we can, like Enoch, build a Zion society where the inhabitants 'walk with God' (Moses 7:69).