The Parable of the Piano Lesson

Posted on August 6, 2012


I’m not creating new epiphanies today, but merely sharing someone else’s. In this case, the eloquent one is Brad Wilcox, who is speaking at a BYU Devotional. He tackles the much-misunderstood topic of grace. You’ll probably enjoy listening to him, because he is more eloquent than I, so I’ve embedded the video below, but I’ll give you the cliff’s notes version first.

Many of us have a faulty connection with Jesus Christ on the issue of the atonement. We assume that we do our very best and he does the rest, and we are saved. The problem he notes is that few of us ever feel like we’ve done our best, because our best is perfection and we can’t accomplish that. So grace seems out of our reach, even though we know it’s supposed to be within everyone’s reach. We understand that Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins and that he can now ask something of us, but we assume that we are paying him back (which we can never do). Others of us assume that grace is a free gift that requires nothing more of us than to receive it. So Wilcox tells a parable.

Mothers (and fathers, we’re an equal opportunity blog) pay for piano lessons when their children are interested in learning to play the piano. What do they ask in return? Practice! When a child practices the piano, are they paying the parent back for the piano lessons? No. What the parent is truly hoping for is a transformation for the benefit of the child. The parent hopes the child will grow to be a confident pianist and have joy in playing. A child who is taking piano lessons against his or her will, or with no faith in his or her ability to become a skilled pianist, is missing the point of everything. It eventually becomes a GET. ME. OUTTA HERE. issue instead of a glorious opportunity. A child may receive the lessons with great enthusiasm and gratitude, but if he or she never practices, the gift will not have the power to transform and will have been similarly pointless.

Heaven is a place for people who have found joy in becoming changed by grace, transformed into someone with confidence and character consistent with someone who has been saved. People who aren’t being transformed by that will not want to be there, whether they saw grace as either unreachable or a simple matter of receiving. Grace is about accepting the gift of an opportunity to be transformed. It is not a repayment. It is not about scrambling guiltily toward perfection, beating ourselves up about every wrong note we accidentally sound; it’s about joyfully and gratefully embracing the assistance and loving encouragement of someone who’s paying for the lessons.

Anyway, I thought that was a nice parable. Enjoy.

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