Rust. It’s a part of life. From that squeaky hinge on the closet door down the hall, to the battery in my car or the nail I happened to step on last week (good thing I have my tetanus up to date. Oh, wait….). It’s what happens when certain metals interact with the world around them and what causes them to lose their shine. Even worse it causes the metal to deteriorate and eventually disintegrate into nothing but a fine red powder. It loses structure and strength until it not only cannot support the things it was shaped to support, but becomes completely useless but to be blown away by the wind.
Admittedly there is a certain beauty to rusted objects which many photographers have worked hard to capture over the years. While these images may hang prettily on our walls and computer desktops, the reality is if we are looking to buy a car we would never trust the automobile riddled with rust to last past the end of the driveway from which we purchased it no matter how beautiful the car would look on our wall. Nor would we trust the pile of rebar heavily caked in that chalky, flaky red substance to hold up a building or a bridge we were trying to build no matter how strongly that red spoke to our soul or pleased our eye.
Human beings can develop a bit of rust as well. Like the oxidation process of metals it is the result of long term interaction with the elements in the world around us, and not usually in a good way. We normally say these people “have character.” Then we put them in a reality show, give them fame and glory because of it and encourage their “character” to continue, perhaps even to worsen. We get entertained for an hour or so, have a laugh or two, and then shut the tele off and go back to life. But in reality, if we lived with these people life would more than likely be unpleasant and we ourselves would begin to deteriorate to a state of unpleasant rustiness as well. What may look pretty hanging in that black box on our wall in real life we would never trust to last all that long. And if it did, long term exposure to those elements would only cause corrosion and deterioration within ourselves.
Truth is we all have a bit of rust on us. We come out looking all nice and shiny and pretty. A perfect creation about to be re-shaped and re-molded into whatever life beats out of us and works into us. And in the course of that re-shaping and re-molding we come in contact with other substances which cause us to break down, lose our luster and potentially cause that same structural break down in the people around us. It is inevitable that in some way, shape or form we too will become rusty from long term interaction with the elements in our world.
But there is hope for us all. We don’t have to stay that way. That rust can not only be cleaned off and the corrosive process halted, but unlike the damaged metal whose substance is now gone and not able to be replaced we can be rebuilt whole and new again. A perfected creation with structural integrity able to stand in the harshest of circumstances to bring support and goodness into the world around us. An additional force for cleaning off the rust in others and introducing them to the only power that can save and restore all of us: The Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“[T]here shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17)
“[T]hine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8)
“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8)
Jesus Christ was the only man who was able to walk through the elements of life untouched by the corrosive nature of the world in which we live. And because of this it allowed Him and Him alone to perform the greatest miracle of all: the Atonement. The power of this miracle is sufficient to clean off all the rust we have and restore us back to perfect integrity. This is the power of justification and sanctification granted to us by His amazing grace because of and through His atonement for mankind.
He alone is the way because He alone knows the way to live a life unspotted by rust. And by the power granted Him by His perfect atonement He can not only make us spotless but restore us to all God intends us to be: A perfected creation in His presence.