Brad Wilcox, a professor in the Department of Teacher Education and member of the Sunday School General Board for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed a packed de Jong Concert Hall last Tuesday on the subject of grace and the role it plays in our personal and spiritual development.
Wilcox is a popular speaker at such events as Especially for Youth and Campus Education Week. He has served in various Church capacities that have given him many distinct insights into the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the grace offered to mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
A young BYU student once approached Wilcox, struggling to grasp the purpose of grace. She was concerned that her best efforts to keep God’s commandments weren’t enough to warrant Christ’s grace filling the rest of “the gap” between herself and God. Wilcox remembers drawing two dots, representing God and ourselves. He asked the young woman to draw a line indicating how much was our responsibility, which she did.
"When learning the piano, are the only options performing in Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. When we understand grace we understand that we never have to face challenges alone, that Christ’s strength is perfect in our weakness and that he offers us his enabling power."
Wilcox related what happened next: “I said, ‘The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole gap. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid our debt in full.’” The young woman was surprised. Wilcox continued, “I said, ‘You have plenty to do, but it is not to fill the gap.’”
He then went on to explain an analogy involving piano lessons. “Mom pays the piano teacher … Because Mom pays the ‘debt’ in full, she can ask her child for something. What is it? Practice!” said Wilcox. “Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher or repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift … Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid, but in seeing her gift used.”
In the same sense, “because Jesus has paid justice He can now turn to us and say, ‘Follow me,’ ‘Keep my commandments,’” Wilcox remarked. The insights contained in the piano lesson analogy seemed to capture the essence of the address: having an appropriate perspective of what is expected of us in our journey to perfection, and understanding that grace is not so much an issue of “repaying” Christ or justice as it is a lifestyle of gratitude and learning.
Gaining a deeper understanding of grace can have a significant impact on our everyday lives. “It is comforting to know that there aren’t just two options: perfection or giving up,” said Wilcox. “When learning the piano, are the only options performing in Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. When we understand grace we understand that we never have to face challenges alone, that Christ’s strength is perfect in our weakness and that he offers us his enabling power.”
Wilcox ended his remarks with counsel to devotional attendants: “I testify the grace of God and Jesus Christ is sufficient and enough. Don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes: look for the Lord and his continuous Atonement. Search for Christ and the incredible enabling power he has called grace.
You can listen to Brad’s remarks on the BYU Speeches Website: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966&tid=2 or on BYUTV’s site: http://byutv.org/show/723af06e-99dd-46f4-beff-9abbe91593f2#!listMain
18 July 2011