- When things turn bad, there is a tendency to blame others or even God. Sometimes a sense of entitlement arises, and individuals or groups try to shift responsibility for their welfare to other people or to governments. In spiritual matters some suppose that men and women need not strive for personal righteousness—because God loves and saves us “just as we are.” But God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama.
He points out that the plan of happiness is based on us making our own choices and accepting the negative consequences that come from making the wrong choices.
- We should (and we do) rejoice in the God-ordained plan that permits us to make choices to act for ourselves and experience the consequences, or as the scriptures express it, to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”
Elder Christofferson talks about the path that the gospel has opened that allows us to be forgiven through the Atonement.
- The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character.
- Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save”19 in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, God enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves.
He speaks of the nature of God and why God requires that we do something on our part in order for the Atonement to be part of our lives.
- A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice.
He compares a world without rules to not having eternal principles to live by.
- Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it.
Finally, Elder Christofferson gives a final plea for what he wants us to do.
- My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.
God has a set of rules that we must live by in order to find lasting happiness. The key point to this worldly experience is us being able to choose the path that we will take. God has made it possible for us to choose the right path but we have to make that decision independent of force from Heaven. Our ultimate demonstration to God that we will follow Him and that we trust Him is our surrendering this precious gift of agency to Him. When we are able to surrender our desires and passions to instead devote our lives to God, we will be on the right path to true discipleship.