Today's lesson source is, in my opinion, best viewed, rather than read.
What does love look/feel like?
How do you know if someone loves you?
But then they hear someone calling from shore, asking how the fishing had gone. Great! Now we have to tell whomever this is that our night was terrible. We're no good at what we used to do. The man on the shore tells them to cast their net to the right side of the boat. They come up with a net full of fish and finally recognize that it is The Lord who has been speaking!
What a joyful reunion! They have their Master back, the nets are full, and dinner is served! But then, Elder Holland explains, "Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally, and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
With greater emphasis and perhaps growing concern on Peter's part, The Lord asks this question twice more. And with each asking, Peter answers yet again in the affirmative.
What are the crucial turning points in your life? The points where you can't turn back from what you now know. Points where you learned a truth beyond doubt. Points where you showed The Lord you loved Him more than "all this."
What is "all this" for you?
At least one commandment:
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
How do we show our Love (loyalty) to the Lord?
"If ye love me, keep my commandments," Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can't quit and we can't go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was the truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without "a single synagogue or sword" to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
While we may have not seen the living Son of the living God in the flesh, what encounters have we had with Him?
Is loyalty to the Savior and loyalty to the Church the same thing?
"What I need, Peter, are disciples - and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of the Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me."
To those who have not yet joined with us in the great final cause of Christ, we say, "Please come."
To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d'oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets.
The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand.
What cultural hors d'oeuvres do you choose - are you missing out on the feast?
What can you do today, this week, this month, this year... to come back, stay true, love God, and/or lend a hand?
"And having set our "hand to the plough," we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world."