It is not difficult to mix up differing teachings of the gospel. Common examples of this are the teachings about the atonement. We believe in grace, and we believe in the importance works such as keeping the commandments. I believe that there are valuable ways to understand that these two concepts can work together, but sometimes we have a larger focus on one of those than the other. Today in church we heard a talk focused on following the prophet’s counsel, and although there were various messages included that I feel are very important, there were also messages that I feel were so focused on one side of the commandments that they overshadow the power of the atonement. I think that this is the reason that some feel as if we are to earn the power of the atonement.
One of the reasons this concerns me is that these types of messages sometimes overshadow the beauty of the gospel and force many of us into shame and fear worrying that we will never be worthy of the saviors love, while I do not believe this can be done. Not only does Christ love us no matter where we happen to be, but he loves our whole selves.
Sister Okazaki taught this in a wonderful way when she said that “Jesus Christ is our loving Savior. He is not some distant person in robes and sandals. He understands about the carburetor in our car, about ACT and SAT tests for our high-school senior, about a missionary cautiously trying tofu for the first time. We can share our whole lives with him. He doesn’t want to see only the pretty, peaceful parts or the sections when we have a good day. Are there parts of our lives that we try to shove into the closet or sweep under the carpet when we pray or when we think we’re trying to be righteous? I want to tell you that Jesus wants our whole hearts. He knows our whole lives. He’s been through worse experiences than anything we have in our past. Do you remember when he told Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail: ‘The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?’ (D&C 122:5-8).”
-Chieko Okazaki, Disciples, p. 93