Thursday, November 19, 2015

Luke 22:31-32 -- On Strengthening Each Other

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Luke 22:31-32

I don't think that Simon Peter's true test of Faith came until after the crucifixion.  Although he had already walked on water and been at Christ's side for so long, he didn't become truly converted until he had to stand on his own.  I think this happens to us too sometimes.  We go along in the gospel, studying, reading, understanding, believing... but until we're really tested because of losing our support system or someone or something we depend on regularly, we don't really internalize the lessons, or even see how much we depend on God.
For me, going away to college was one step... when you know that no one will notice, or care, whether you go to church, I found that to be a much different choice than going with my family or not.  That's a hurdle we often have to deal with when our lives change and we are responsible to ourselves and to God rather than our parents.
Later, on my mission that a more dramatic test came.  Unlike college, where I could pick up the phone and talk to my mom or a friend, or go somewhere and shut everything out if I wanted/needed to, I was in a position where I was never alone, and sometimes constantly with someone that bugged me (I am sure it was mutual).   The things that I had learned to count on and the ways that I relied on for dealing with stress were gone... and there, with my support system shorn away, I learned my first real lesson in how much I desperately need God.
Perhaps my situation was less dramatic, but in a small way similar to Peter's position after he saw Christ crucified.  He surely felt lost, and he had to rethink everything that he had learned, because doing it with Jesus beside him was one thing, and doing it by himself was very different.  But with time, and some extra lessons from the resurrected Christ, Peter became a powerhouse of strength and faith: the rock that Christ had predicted he would become.
Peter's instruction after he was truly converted and his heart was changed and he was completely dedicated to God was "strengthen thy brethren."  And I think that is what God asks of all of us as we go through similar trials.  We are *all* tested in this way, often becoming re-converted multiple times as our situations change and we encounter different trials and difficulties.  Being strong one day doesn't mean that we will be strong the next day... we all have weaknesses and temptations and fears.  The cool thing is that one way to become converted is the same thing that we should do after conversion.  We should strengthen each other.  As we serve, we are able to forget our own troubles as we work to assist others.  And as we help others, we see the Lord's hand in their lives, which makes it easier to see in our own.  It is all tied together, as we work with each other to offer strength and comfort.
Christ is praying for each of us, that our faith fail not.  Let's do our part, and learn the harder lessons... and as we do, let's strengthen each other... building a Zion community, a spiritual support structure, and God's Kingdom.

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