Atonement and a Vacant Lot

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.


4 thoughts on “Atonement and a Vacant Lot

  1. I am extremely grateful for this message and it completely makes sense. I was asked today to give a talk next week on Easter Sunday and this gave me some great ideas on what I’d like to talk about. On my mission I often wondered why people would be so “strong” of a convert and within weeks or months after relapsing. It was because we were applying the tradition of subduing the sin for a season. If we would have taught that light (knowledge) through scripture study, prayer, and revelation was the way to access the Atonement those investigators lives would be much different. This is the message in 1 Nephi 11:25. The Iron Rob (Word of God) leads to the Living Waters or Tree of Life (Love of God). It is only through the Word that we can access the Atonement and His seed (Word) unto good ground (Understands the Word) will bear good fruit. Christ is telling us that those who read His word and understand it are the ones who access His power and bring forth good fruit.

    Thanks Dad it makes perfect sense.

    • You’re absolutely correct. The word is the seed. It becomes the tree and eventually, in maturity, bares the fruit. It is the fruit that is the light that chases out the darkness, that causes you to abhor the sin. We continue to sin because we have not tasted of the fruit. Thus the fruits of the pleasures of the flesh seem to be a greater reward. Ignorance is what the atonement cures. It is through greater light and truth that the atonement dispels the darkness. Satan has been manipulating us (all this time with) a bruised heal. That is all sin is- a bruised heal. When we connect with the atonement, then we can crush the head of the false serpent. That is our promise. But only if we choose to arise and receive it.

  2. Although I don’t believe EVERYONE views things the way you believe they do, I do believe that you have hit the nail on the head with the atonement. One of the BYU devotionals talked about a couple that was dating going in to the bishop every time they “slipped”. Although it was not frequent, it happened a number of times. Each time they “slipped” they “repented” by going in to see the Bishop. The speaker said that this is not “repentance”, they are merely visiting with the Bishop. So it becomes the band-aid to the symptom and not really the solution. Although not entirely the same, it parallels your explanation of the atonement. We naturally seek the fastest, least painful way to “take care of business” which in and of itself is really not repentance at all. When the deep groaning of remorse for choosing wrong internally wracks our conscience and we absolutely abhor the sin, then we can truly appreciate the atonement in casting out the darkness of the sin and lifting ourselves into the light of the Savior’s forgiveness and then we can see the higher road to which His light shows the way. Oh what joy it is to travel that road and know that the “sin” is no more, but instead it is filling your time with better choices. Just like the field.

    • That couple who continues to “slip” continues to go to the bishop because after slipping their souls “are” remorseful, and they have deep groaning to repent, for choosing wrong, which “does” wrack their conscience, such that they absolutely abhor the sin. Opposed to our perception, repetition of sin is not necessarily evidence of the absence of real desire to repent. However, the couple may continue to repeat the sin because their is a void when it comes to replacing such habits. The wracking of the soul, the pain and suffering is not what makes the change, and fills us with light.

      The atonement is what fills the void, it’s what the couple need to occupy their time with (instead of making-out so much), that is the light that dispels the darkness. Doing a good work is better seen as learning of God. The further light and truth that you gain about the characteristics of God is the light that dispels the dark. It’s not when you have experienced sufficient pain, like it sounds like you’re suggesting. The wracking of the soul is only an evidence that you know what you’re not supposed to do, and you are ignorant to what you are supposed to do. But it is not the light in and of itself. The light comes by knowing God and curing the ignorance.

      When the couple knows this God in who they claim to believe, they will not do anything to disappoint because the reward of greater light is a significant multiple greater than the pleasure experienced in the “slipping.” It is the knowledge of this multiple, pitted against the sin, that makes the sin an obvious no-brainer. Failure to obtain such light will cause a repetition of sin, …because of ignorance.

      Our greatest sin …is not sin, but ignorance.

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