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)
Imagine how Peter felt when Jesus said, "When you are converted"! The word used means, to turn in mind, to change, to become, as it were, another person.
Jesus made this statement to a man whom:
had walked on water (Matthew 14:29);
had seen demons flee at his command;
had participated in supernatural healings (Luke 10:9,17);
had received direct revelation from God that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16,17);
had forsaken all to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27);
was ready to die or to suffer imprisonment for his Master (Luke 22:33).
Now, Jesus was telling him he needed to be converted!
It is safe to say that nobody was more dedicated or devoted to Jesus than Peter. He was not a lukewarm type, his commitment to Jesus was real and fervent. It must have been a tremendous blow to have Jesus say such a thing to him. Of course, we know the rest of the story, about the rooster crowing, and Peter's denial that he ever knew Jesus.
There are a lot of fervent Christians. But fervency, in itself, may not stand up under real pressure. Another dimension is necessary in the walk of a disciple, and it involves conversion.
Many of us have not responded to the high calling that Jesus has placed upon our lives (Philippians 3:14).
We have a problem with anything that requires us to trust His grace more than our own capability (2 Timothy 1:8,9); that is where conversion takes place.
A handful of people in the Bible were able to appropriate conversion. Noah was one; Job finally managed it after a long and difficult struggle; Abraham, Isaac and Joseph gave us good examples.
Two of the best role models, outnumbered 1,000,000 to 1, were Joshua and Caleb. Conversion is not easy. It goes against our natural instinct. But unless we submit ourselves to it we will never experience the high, holy calling.
There is another word for conversion, and Satan has deceived almost all Christians into believing it is a dirty word. The word is repentance. It is actually a gloriously beautiful word, because it holds the key to the high calling!
There are two meanings to repentance. One is to regret something we have done, to be anxious about it, to have pain of mind rather than change of mind. It includes having a change of purpose, rather than a change of heart. Judas was a case in point (Matthew 27:3-5).
Another meaning to repentance parallels conversion. It means to recover one's senses, to come to a right understanding, to change one's mind. It brings reformation, complete change, from the former mode of life, to a new and different one.
That happened to Peter, with the result that he became the vessel chosen to explain Pentecost with such clarity that thousands were brought into the kingdom (Acts 2).
Peter was in love with Jesus, even to the extent of wielding a sword in His defense. But in his present condition, sold out completely to his Lord, he could only wound a potential convert (John 18:10). He had to undergo conversion.
How do we arrive at a critical station in our lives so repentance can bring conversion? Usually, we have to be thrust into a situation like Peter, so we see how totally lacking we are of any worthwhile capability.
We can fight battles and lay hands on the sick and watch them be healed, but that is only the introductory stage to the high calling.
Obstruction to conversion is self-will. Like the prodigal son, we only ask for things we're entitled to as members of God's household, but we insist upon having our own way. This gives us a pig-pen existence until we come to our senses and experience conversion (Luke 15:11-24). Like Peter, we are so ambitious to serve God that we don't give Him opportunity to work.
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:10)
We must lay down all our ambition and trust Him to do the work He wants to do rather than something we have in mind. We must believe that if we draw near to Him, wash our hands of our own aspirations and focus solely upon our relationship, that He will direct us.
This is the second step in conversion. The first step is the realization that our own self-willed ambitions lead us to the pig-pen. Let's take a moment to determine where we are. God's high calling awaits us!
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Where am I on the conversion ladder?