My mother sent me a beautiful article about Christ’s atonement and grace. It is entitled, His Grace is Sufficient, and was given by Brad Wilcox in a devotional at Brigham Young University on July 12, 2011.
In his talk, Brother Wilcox (what we members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call each other since we are all children of God) explains that rather than looking at the atonement and grace as Jesus making up the difference after all we can do, it is much more akin to a mother providing music lessons to her child.
The mother pays the piano teacher, she pays the debt in full. So she can ask for something from her child. What does she ask for?
That the child practice.
Does the child’s practice pay the teacher?
Does the child’s practice pay back the mother?
No to both.
Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for the wonderful gift his mother provided. It is how the child takes advantage of the opportunity his mother is giving him to live his life on a higher level.
And the mother doesn’t receive happiness by getting repaid for the lessons, but by watching her gift being used, to see her child improve his life.
If the child complains that her requirement to practice is unreasonable and too difficult, it may be because he doesn’t see the big picture the same way that she does, how much better his life could be if he chooses to live on a higher level.
It is the same with Jesus Christ. He paid for our sins, satisfying the demands of justice. Therefore He gives us His requirements – to follow Him and keep His commandments. He invites us to live on a higher level.
If we complain that His requirements are unreasonable and too difficult, it may be that we do not see the big picture in the same way that Christ does, how much better our lives could be if we choose to live on a higher level. We have not comprehended what He is trying to make of us!
We try and try to follow His commandments – not as a punishment nor even as payment for what He suffered for us. The purpose of His rules, His requirements, is to change us, to bring us to a higher level.
We are not earning our way into heaven; we are learning heaven. We are preparing for heaven, practicing for it.
The purpose of grace is to change us. Remember not only what Jesus saved us from, but also what He saved us for – to be like Him and to enjoy all the blessings and happiness that He has!