I’m not a doctrinal or theological expert. I’m just a normal, average, faith-transitioned member trying to work her way in the world. As a result of the faith transition, I feel . . . less worthy and certain. Before I was filled with certainty; how I saw the world, the eternities, and my place in it very clearly. I had confidence in my standing before God because I felt I was doing all that I could do. Now I’m incredibly uncertain about the world, the eternities, and really the only thing I know for sure is how little I know. My confidence in my place before God comes wholly from reliance on more of an evangelical form of grace. We are all broken, unworthy . . . and all I have to offer God every week is my broken heart and contrite spirit.
I’ve always had unexplained health issues that doctors have never been able to explain. About a year ago I began to have some pretty major health problems. I had so little energy it felt like I was moving through molasses. I was struggling to be able to lift up a gallon of milk in the morning. I was diagnosed with lupus about six months ago. It’s a lifetime, chronic auto-immune disease that in a lot of ways mimics MS (your body attacking itself). Gratefully I have a relatively mild case and as of now my kidneys, heart, and brain have nothing to worry about. That being said, I was counseled to start practicing self care and have a realistic outlook and what I will be able to accomplish in a day (not much). It’s been a difficult transition to learn how to do nothing (comparatively). Especially when I hear the oft-repeated phrase of “grace is the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen you to do more than what you can do on your own.” From how I was hearing grace being taught at church, it just felt like Bednar’s grace seemed out of reach – that it just wasn’t for me. I certainly wasn’t experiencing super-human feats of obedience and good works. I do the basic Sunday school answers. I volunteer on the local library foundation board. I substitute teach sometimes. And I can barely get dinner on the table. These things were stretching me to my limits; I felt like I was relying on the atonement not to strengthen me, but to allow me to accept my limits and to comfort me in my nothingness (being the dust of the earth and all).
Imagine my reaction of joy and happiness to hear Elder Uchtdorf’s sermon on grace Sunday morning.
…”the grace of God [is] —the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of “truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things.”8
The assistance we receive to grow from flawed to exalted beings – this spoke to my heart. I hope that is what has moved upon me lately to produce my broken heart and contrite spirit; to make my heart softer, less judgmental, and more empathetic. Indeed my heart has been changed. When he went on to say,
Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God.26 Thinking that we can trade our good works for salvation is like buying a plane ticket and then supposing we own the airline. Or thinking that after paying rent for our home, we now hold title to the entire planet earth.
I almost collapsed, because I felt like I had been there. That WAS me. I am eternally grateful for the message the Spirit spoke to my heart during this talk. It’s been interesting to see others’ reactions. Some have matched mine, others decidedly not; including lamentations of whiffs of this evangelical type of grace.
So what do you think? Do you find any stark differences between Bednar’s grace and Uchtdorf’s grace? Are they competing or compatible views? Do you think we may have swung the pendulum along the spectrum a little too far into works and we’re in need or a slight course correction? What should I make of the fact that Uchtdorf’s grace works perfectly for me but others hope it doesn’t speak of things to come? Is grace *more* than the enabling power of the atonement? Are the two approaches just different layers to the same onion?