When people feel like they “can’t do enough,” they must look to the Savior because He “did more than enough” for them, said Brad Wilcox during his presentation at the BYU Easter Conference, Friday evening, March 29.
“For too many, the message of Easter falls on deaf ears. … For far too many faithful disciples in the Church, the message of Easter does not fall on deaf ears but on discouraged ones,” said Brother Wicox, who teaches at BYU. “Many Saints feel defeated, as if they can never do enough and are forever falling short. The message of Easter that I want to celebrate tonight is that Christ came to lift us up, not to put us down.”
Brother Wilcox used the example found at the end of the Book of Mormon when Moroni speaks of the trials and challenges surrounding him and pleads that, despite those challenges, he will be uplifted.
“Mormon’s message is for all of us when we are surrounded by trials, when we feel overwhelmed and beaten, when expectations seem too high and when heaven seems too far out of reach,” he said. It is those times when the words Mormon says to his son are needed: “May Christ lift thee up” (Moroni 9:25).
Brother Wilcox shared three “snapshots” of times members may be discouraged — a discouraged missionary, a busy mother and a “perfectionist Relief Society president.” Although their circumstances vary, their problems — most including trying to do too much — are similar. Although many of the things that the faithful members were trying to do were good things, they were not relying on the Savior for help.
“Are the missionary, mother and president trying to earn blessings? Are they trying to earn grace or salvation?” he asked. “If you asked them, they would probably say no. They are just trying to do their part — just trying to do their best. But will their best ever be good enough? Where does such thinking stop?”
When things go wrong, oftentimes individuals convince themselves it is their fault for not going one more extra mile or performing one more act of service.
“Many faithful Saints like these three rarely feel they are measuring up, and are wearing themselves out trying,” he said.
But turning to the Lord is not “one more thing to do,” Brother Wilcox said. It is the only thing to do.
“In many of our busy latter-day lives, what is needed is not one more sacrifice from us but rather a deeper understanding of the sacrifice of the Savior for us and the grace He offers,” Brother Wilcox taught.
Just as all need grace at life’s finish line, they also need it to get to the finish line.
“Grace is the reason we can quote the scripture, ‘[We] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us] (Philippians 4:13),” he said. “Most of us recognize our total dependence on the Lord for our salvation in the hereafter, but we may overlook our dependence on Him here and now.”
Without Christ, no one can be resurrected or forgiven; however, the ultimate goal is not just to live after death and be cleansed from sin, Brother Wilcox taught. The ultimate goal even extends beyond coming unto Christ. It is becoming like Him that is the ultimate goal.
“We must not see Christ’s grace as supplementing our works or our works as supplementing Christ’s grace as if we need to meet some sort of minimum height requirement to get into heaven. It is not about height … it is about growth. … We do not reach heaven by supplementing. We reach heaven by covenanting, and a covenant is not a cold contract between party A and Party B, each doing his respective part. It is a warm relationship between two friends, who are literally on a first-name basis, each loving and working with the other.”
Christ’s purpose is not just to save, but also to shape lives.
“Jesus paid our debt to justice, and He paid that debt in full,” Brother Wilcox taught. “He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. Because He paid that debt, He can now turn to us with a new arrangement. He can ask for eventual perfection and He can offer to strengthen, mentor and tutor us through the developmental process, however long it takes.”
By complying, individuals are not paying the demands of justice — not even the smallest part — but instead, they are showing appreciation for what the Savior did. Works are important not because they are a requirement for receiving grace, but because they develop from grace. This knowledge brings hope.
“Hope brings perspective when we consider the past and hope is what brings a new motivation as we look toward the future,” Brother Wilcox said. He later continued, “The message of Easter is Christ’s Atonement. Because of it, we can live again after we die, we can be forgiven of our sins. But the message of Easter does not stop there. Because of the Atonement, we can be consoled in our sorrows and afflictions. But the message of Easter doesn’t stop there either. Because of the Atonement, we can ultimately become like Jesus. To do so we must turn to the Lord by understanding His grace, experiencing His transformation, and finding hope that He alone can offer.
“To the discouraged missionary we say, ‘Take heart!’ Blessings are not just awaiting extra-milers. Blessings are enabling each mile and each extra mile. Grace is not a prize for the worthy, it is the power to become worthy. To the busy mom we say, ‘Don’t give up!’ Let’s not get so focused on checking items off our to-do list that we forget why God gave us the list in the first place. … God knows that becoming takes time and He knows that some days are better than others.
“To the 200 percenter Relief Society president we say, ‘Thanks for your sincere efforts! But remember you are not just working for God but with Him.’ God uses people to finish His work, but He also uses His work to finish people.”