God gathers us to bless us
The Lord instructed Joseph, “Behold, I say unto you that it is not expedient in me that ye should translate any more until you shall go to Ohio, and this because of the enemy and for your sakes.” (D&C 37:1). At the time of this instruction, Joseph labored on his inspired Biblical commentary, having read Genesis 5. The city of Enoch appears in Moses 7, and Enoch weeps bitterly over the problem of evil. The Lord comforts Enoch by giving him a vision, “And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of Lord come…And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man…and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me.” (Moses 7:45, 47).
Seeing all the families of the earth, Enoch also saw how the Savior Jesus Christ would rescue and restore them. Central to gathering, whether it be as families or wards or stakes or friends, is the Savior Jesus Christ. The Lord says, “And again I say unto you that ye shall not go until ye have preached my gospel in those parts, have strengthened up the church, whithersoever it is found.” (D&C 37:2). One of the Lord’s purposes in gathering is so that we can strengthen one another.
Jesus instructed Peter similarly in the New Testament, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you ,that he may sift you as wheat” but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32). We are gathered because we can learn from one another. This learning is integral to our becoming more like Jesus Christ.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed me the importance of gathering. When the pandemic hit back in March 2020 in the Provo area, I remember that the first couple weeks of home church were fine for me. I enjoyed reading and learning from the scriptures on Sunday, but then, the impact of not gathering hit me. While I enjoyed my self-directed reading, I felt like I missed out on spiritual insights, communion, community, and other important aspects of my faith. This truly showed me the importance of gathering. Elder Stevenson in his recent conference talk said, “The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division.”
God’s people must be one
When we gather together, we learn about each other in ways that we did not before. We read, “And 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.” (D&C 38:24-25). In this section, God gives us many ways that we might become one.
He tells us, “there you shall be endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32), “they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer” (D&C 38:35), and “see that all things are preserved; and when men are endowed with power from on high and sent forth, all these things shall be gathered unto the bosom of the church.” (D&C 38:38). Creating unity between us requires that we minister to one another like the Savior did and that we bring the gospel to all nations like He asks us to do.
The opening of this chapter reminds of us of how Christ makes us one, “I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have split, have I pleaded before the Father for them.” (D&C 38:4). Especially remembering the events of Easter that just passed us, this verse has a deep meaning. We become one as we believe in Christ and help others find Christ as well. Our own conversion is integral to the unity that we can create with another, because we are not just one, we are one in Christ.
We are reminded, “And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom.” (D&C 38:6). We hear the voice of Christ in the scriptures, in the words of prophets, in prayer, in service, and as we go day to day living according to the law of love. As we gather according to the love of God, we become one, “And he that receiveth these things receiveth me; and they shall be gathered unto me in time and in eternity.” (D&C 39:22). This should raise our awareness to God’s expression of love through covenants, “Thou shalt preach the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth in these last days, the covenant which I have sent forth to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel.” (D&C 39:11).
Covenants bind and seal us together, both in the sense that covenants create eternal families, but also in the sense that covenants direct us to have love, care, and concern for one another. We become one through the sealing power, but also through the power with which God endows us that we might work miracles in the name of Jesus Christ, and invite others to partake of the ordinances and covenants that teach us how to love with the love of God.
The Father desires to give us the riches of eternity
Covenants are the blessings of eternity. We learn to seek after heavenly blessings when we seek after the will of the Father; we read, “And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity.” (D&C 38:39). This particular verse reminds me of a story in the New Testament.
The author of Luke chronicles a time when a certain ruler goes to Jesus and asks “Good Master, shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). Jesus responds, “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.” (Luke 18:22). This man becomes sad and seeing this, Jesus says, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”(Luke 18:24).
Jesus sets up an intentional paradox here. We are not rich in the godly sense of the term when we are rich in the worldly sense of the term. The richest person is the one who gave all of his or her riches to the poor willingly and as an act of love for God and love for neighbor. When the Lord reminds the saints in this revelation in Doctrine and Covenants that we become rich when we seek after the treasures of heaven, He reminds us that the pure love of Christ involves burden bearing not heaping up rewards for ourselves.
We become one in Christ when we “should impart of your [our] substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath.” (Mosiah 4:21). By imparting of our substance and experiencing conversion in Christ, the Father blesses us eternally through the atonement of Jesus Christ with a more complete conversion. We become more like God as we are able to love more like God through following Christ-like principles of conversion, teaching, giving, listening, and sharing. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us the correct principles that we need in order to be one with Jesus Christ and our neighbor through love. If we all become one with Christ through conversion and love, we become one with each other.
More Come, Follow Me resources here.
Hanna Seariac is a MA student in Comparative Studies at Brigham Young University. She has interests in ancient languages and ancient religion, particularly in the Second Temple period. She works as a research assistant on a biblical commentary and as a research assistant on early Latter-day Saint history. She hosts the FAIR Voice podcast.