(Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions- take it or leave it. Probably leave it.)
Man I started out writing this a couple times and wanted to write some elegant prose and an example of the Jews in the New Testament not recognizing Jesus as the Savior even though all their laws, performances, and observations pointed to the fact He was. But each time I tried to be formal I couldn’t write, so let’s just have a heart-to-heart.
I don’t think a majority of Mormons understand grace.
It’s the biggest problem in the church in my opinion. We just don’t get it. One time some dude from BYU wrote a book called “Believing Christ” and it helped some people – a lot of people – and leaders started handing it out to people who had problems with perfectionism. When I was 17 that happened to me and I read the book and nothing changed and it scared me and I was like, maybe all this is a farce and I’m not happy and what the hell am I going to do.
In the book there was something called “the parable of the bicycle” where he talks about how his daughter wanted a bike and so he told her “save up your pennies and you’ll get one” hoping that she would forget, but she actually did it and he was like, ‘oh shi* I’m gonna actually have to buy this girl a bike’ – well it wasn’t completely like that- but basically he felt sorry because she only saved up $0.61 and bikes are a lot more expensive than $0.61, I know because I tried to buy one recently and instead I just lay on the couch a lot.
But he tells her basically that if she gives him the $0.61 and a hug and a kiss, he’ll make up the rest and get her this bike.
I think this is the root of misunderstanding grace in the LDS church.
I’m not going to speak for all Mormons, but for myself and a lot of my friends that have misunderstood this- we go around in our lives trying to save up as many pennies as we can so that if salvation costs $100, maybe with my amount of sins Jesus only has to spend 90$, or if I’m really good only $80 – or even worse – I’m not worth a bike so maybe he’ll be like my friend Chubby who would take a couch cushion and put it on the handlebars for me to ride while he peddles his bike (this is not safe).
This is false doctrine.
The truth is Jesus paid the $100. It’s already paid. We can’t take away from it or give to the fund.
As Lehi says, “Salvation is free.”
People here usually think to themselves, well then what is my part to which I usually respond- we have none. We’re saved. That’s what makes it infinite.
Well then why in the world would I repent then?
The answer: Because you want to.
It’s really that simple. Sin is just the process of putting other gods before God. If worshiping other gods works for you, great. No one condemns you. In fact God himself “granteth unto all men according to their desire… whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction”.
These gods provide temporary satisfaction, but nothing lasting to hold us through hard times. They also don’t provide unconditional love, the one thing we all want. For addicts like myself we learn this the very hard way.
So if someone wants to stop worshiping other gods before God, how is it done?
Only through grace.
The greatest blessing an addict has is that we learn out of necessity that we need a higher power to overcome. Before I recognized I struggled with addiction I thought the Atonement was activated when someone sinned and then you used it to repent and then you were made whole and didn’t use it again until you sinned or needed help with something.
Awful. False. AWFUL. FALSE.
Now I realize that using the Atonement is accepting the truth in John 15: 5 – “without me, you can do nothing”.
I used to think repentance was keeping the commandments. I now realize it’s admitting, daily, hourly, moment-to-moment, that I can’t.
No one can. All are fallen and lost. No one can keep the commandments. No one can do good.
My friend said the other day, “I feel it’s impossible to be good.” She is absolutely right.
I used to take comfort in being worthy. I now let go of that false god and admit that I’m not.
Admitting the inability to do good and daily, consistent, constant dependence on God’s grace, is the only way to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and a perfect brightness of hope, with a love of God and all men” to eventually participate in the “perfect love that casteth out all fear” and become the “sons (and daughters) of God, and when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, see Him as He is, and be purified even as He is pure.”
It is the way to feel comfortable with God and “know him, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent.”
Once again, this is all a choice to know God if I want.
I’m glad we had this talk about grace.