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Saturday, October 30, 2021

What Role Should Church Leaders Play with Worldly Leaders?

            My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 124. The revelation now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 124 was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, Illinois, on January 19, 1841. More than two years had passed since Lilburn W. Boggs, governor of Missouri, issued his exterminating order on October 27, 1838, and left the Saints no alternative except to leave Missouri. However, the Saints had struggled for six years before things started to look better in the spring of 1839.

            Increasing persecutions and illegal procedures against them by public officers compelled the Saints to leave Missouri. The weather was cold with snow on the ground, and the Saints were ill-prepared to be trekking across the country seeking shelter. However, life began to look bearable when the good citizens of Quincy, Illinois, opened their homes and businesses to the Saints. Within days or weeks, the guards allowed the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders to escape captivity in Missouri, and they joined the Saints in Quincy.

            The Saints did not plan to stay in Quincy and began looking elsewhere for a place to gather. Joseph Smith was offered some land in Illinois, and the Church purchased the land. It was swamp land infested with mosquitoes, but it seemed manageable to the Saints who had seen some tough challenges over the last six years.

            The Saints discovered that the swamp was caused by springs on the property and not by drainage from the Mississippi River. They drained the swamp and drafted a charter for a new city, which they named Nauvoo. In Hebrew, Nauvoo means “beautiful.” At first, the name was more an expression of faith in the future than a description of the place.

            The Saints had suffered tremendously, and life was still touch. Nonetheless, the Lord was impressing His prophet with a sense of urgency. He had more truths and ordinances to restore, and He needed a holy temple where they could be received. Today, President Russell M. Nelson, his counselors, and the Apostles are share the same feelings of urgency and need to exercise faith.

            Nauvoo became a beautiful city with a beautiful temple, but the Saints were not allowed to enjoy either of them for long. However, the Lord was able to restore His truths and ordinances to “crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:55). The Saints left Nauvoo endowed with power from God.

            One of the principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 124 is that the Lord wants us to welcome and accept others. The Saints experienced a warm welcome and acceptance by the good people of Quincy, Illinois, after they were driven out of Missouri. They could have isolated themselves in Nauvoo and discouraged visitors, but the Lord told them to build a “house of boarding” (verse 23), a place where visitors could rest and learn about the Saints and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He instructed that the boarding house be called the Nauvoo House.

            The Saints worked to build the Nauvoo House, while at the same time building the Nauvoo Temple. Church leaders felt that it was important to finish the Nauvoo House to have a place to entertain important worldly leaders and to teach them the truth. However, the Nauvoo House was never finished. Shortly before his death on June 27, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed that the Saints stop work on the Nauvoo House and use the resources to finish the temple.

            Once the Saints were established in the Salt Lake Valley, the great people of the world were welcomed by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Numerous Presidents of the United States have visited with officials of the Church of Jesus Christ, and leaders of other nations have also been welcomed.       

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