What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Megan Troyer
While reading The Peacegiver by James L. Ferrell, I was impressed by part of an insightful conversation between two main characters in the book. They were discussing the topic of entitlements, as one of the characters, Ricky, felt he deserved to be loved and supported by his wife with whom he had been having marital troubles. The other character, Ricky’s grandfather, commented:
It is true that we are commanded to love and honor others, and it is likely true that Carol fails always to do that—just as you and I fail. But what’s false is this idea that you or I deserve that love and devotion—that we are somehow entitled to it. The truth is that there is only one thing we truly deserve, and that’s to be sent to hell—you, Carol, me, Jonah, Nineveh, all of us. Love and salvation are gifts. How grateful we should be to receive them in any measure!
Hell is all we could ever hope for, Ricky, if it weren’t for the redeeming power of the Savior’s atonement. It is only his love, offered not because we deserve it but even though we do not, that saves us. We don’t want what we deserve, believe me…. Our only hope is to receive what we don’t deserve—the mercy that brings the gift of eternal life. (The Peacegiver, pp. 96-7)
That passage reminded me of the following powerful verses:
And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. (2 Ne. 2:5-8)
What do we deserve? Hell. Eternal punishment. Expulsion from God’s presence.
But praise be to the Lord that because of the Savior’s atonement, we can receive mercy—a gift. That mercy doesn’t rob justice, yet it satisfies the demand of law and brings us back into God’s presence.
Without the atonement, our eternal entitlement would be everlasting punishment, having been exposed to justice. With it, our entitlement is glory, peace, everlasting dominion, and eternal lives. The latter sounds far better, if you ask me.
As Ricky’s grandfather said, we don’t want what we truly deserve. Thankfully, it is by Christ’s grace that we are saved, after and despite all we can do. Our charge is to be perfect in Him, not like Him. Only then will our true entitlement be changed in our favor. Thank the heavens for that.