No matter how often you clear a vacant lot, if it is left vacant, it will continue to accumulate weeds and trash that will eventually need to be cleared again. The atonement is mistaken for clearing accumulated weeds and trash from a vacant lot. This idea of the atonement naturally leads to a discussion of different lot clearing methods, for different weeds and trash. The atonement is better understood as filling us with light and truth. When light and truth defines the purpose of the atonement, prayer, scripture study and revelation has significant value, otherwise they do not.
My dad taught me a lesson about vacant lots. He taught me that if the ground was not being used and maintained, it would eventually grow weeds and accumulate trash. So rather than leave the lot next to our house empty, he planted banana trees, taro, sugar cane and sweet potato. When the bananas were ripe and heavy, my dad cut them into hands and sent us boys throughout the neighborhood to give it away to the neighbors. The production of the fruits gave the vacant land value. Eventually, the land was sold and houses were built. While the weeds still try to grow there, since it has been developed, it will not have much success. My father has since moved to another house with a vacant lot next to it. You guessed it, he and my youngest brother have been planting banana trees there too.
Clearing a vacant lot only has temporary results. The atonement was meant to have eternal results. When the atonement is reduced to merely clearing vacant lots, it quickly begins to resemble modern medicine practices. We address only symptoms, and never find a cure. The prescriptions are to relieve symptoms, but the solution is rarely obtained.
General conference has become prescriptions to symptoms. We talk about all the types of sins, and then suggest ways to just “…stop it.” We have become a “disciplined” people. Our solutions to the symptoms are to memorize and repeat a hymn or a scripture. We suggest using electronic devices to do genealogy, and so on. However the real “cure all” is often vaguely mentioned and highly generalized. We must return to the atonement for the cure.
The atonement is more than just being forgiven of sins. That is a small part of it. Notice how quickly Christ forgave sins. That was the easy part. Even as he is dying on the cross, he forgives those killing him. To Christ, forgiving was the easy part. The work of the atonement is curing us of our ignorance.
Christ asked God to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is where the atonement really shines. The atonement is Christ giving us light and truth, and the light and truth then casts out all darkness. The sinner, within you, is destroyed by the light that fills you up. That is what the atonement does. When the atonement is properly understood, more emphasis will be placed upon our prayers, scripture study and revelation. They are sources of light and truth. Christ is not a quick solution for symptoms, He is the cure.