When thou art converted
Published 2:51 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019
Recently reading the New Testament, I came across this somewhat surprising and seemingly stern suggestion from Jesus to Peter, offered amid the rich teachings of the Last Supper:
“But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:32
To Peter! I have always scratched my head over this passage. To me, Peter is like a scriptural superhero, a missionary, an apostle, a disciple, an unstoppable force for gospel good and fearless ministering.
Peter, who had so boldly testified: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16
Peter, who along with Andrew his brother, had responded to the Lord’s invitation to “Follow me” not by pausing or hesitating, not by stopping to arrange his personal and professional affairs, but rather with dedicated and driving immediacy: “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20
Peter, who had been with Jesus on so many occasions throughout His ministry, witnessed so many miracles, heard so many sermons, on land and on sea, in the streets and in homes and in the great temple at Jerusalem.
Peter, who, at one point, had even summoned sufficient faith to bound out of the boat and walk on water in the face of a gathering storm in order to follow Jesus. Matthew 14:29
With all this, how could Jesus suggest that Peter was not fully converted?
Certainly the reception of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost was a turning point in Peter’s conversion, as Jesus had promised. Thereafter, Peter truly was a witness of Christ “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Perhaps, as Elder David A. Bednar, apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has taught, receiving a testimony of Christ and His gospel is different than full conversion, leading to a “new creature.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
According to Elder Bednar, “For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a one time event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience … Conversion unto the Lord requires both patience and persistence.”
Where testimony is an important prerequisite building block, “Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of true conversion.”
True conversion means that we remain firm and steadfast regardless of the trials and adverse tides of life.
True conversion means carrying the joy of the gospel wherever we go, and sharing it with all with whom we associate.
True conversion means that we stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that we may be in.
True conversion means adhering always to the prayer found in a favorite hymn:
“Silently we pray
For courage to accept thy will,
To listen and obey.
We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full.
We’ll walk thy chosen way.”
Brent Roberts is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.