The most important responsibility that you, the youth of the Church, have is to see that you are converted. That is number one. In this sense, all of us should be converts to the Church. We should all be converted to the truthfulness of the gospel. Then we can share this truth with others.
One day while the Master and his disciples were on their way to Caesarea Philippi, they stopped for a rest. And the Master asked them, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
And then Jesus asked the disciples to bear their testimonies: “But whom say ye that I am?”
I suppose they all bore testimony, but we have only Peter’s recorded. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Then the Master replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:13–17.)
Peter had received a revelation. He knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of the world, the divine Son of God. Now, it could only have been a year or so after this incident when the Master turned to Peter with a rebuke. We do not know what it was that caused him to rebuke Simon Peter, but he 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. Italics added.)
Can you imagine the Lord saying this to his chief apostle, to the very man who had previously received a revelation as to the divine mission of the Lord? The Lord said to Peter that Satan just about had him, and that he had better go out and get converted. Well we might ask, “What does it mean to become converted?” especially after we learn the Lord had suggested that Peter was becoming unconverted. In effect, the Lord is saying that the testimony you have today will not be your testimony of tomorrow. Your testimony is either going to grow and grow until it becomes as the brightness of the sun, or it is going to diminish to nothing, depending on what you do about it. Peter, somehow, was losing his testimony.
The greatest responsibility that a member of Christ’s church has ever had is to become truly converted—and it is just as important to stay converted. But again I ask you, what is conversion? Some clues are given by the Lord. In answering a question as to why he spoke in parables, he quoted a scripture from Isaiah:
“Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa. 6:10.)
As you can see, one is converted when he sees with his eyes what he ought to see; when he hears with his ears what he ought to hear; and when he understands with his heart what he ought to understand—then he is converted. And what he ought to see, hear, and understand is truth—eternal truth—and then practice it. That is conversion. But when he fails to see, and fails to hear, and fails to understand truth and apply it in his life for some reason, then that man has lost his faith. He has lost his testimony because of something he has done. Remember, the Lord then told Peter to go out and regain what he had lost.
A few years ago a prominent university professor joined the Church. When I asked him to speak before a group of New York businessmen and to explain why he had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said to these men, “I’ll tell you why I joined this church. I came to a time in my life when my heart told me things that my mind did not know. Then it was that I knew the Spirit of the Lord was teaching me, and I knew the gospel was true.” When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us.
Recently I had a visit from a young Catholic priest. He came with a stake missionary from Colorado. I asked him why he had come, and he replied, “I came to see you.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “I have been searching for certain concepts that I have not been able to find. But I think I am finding them now in the Mormon community.”
That led to a half-hour conversation. I told him, “Father, when your heart begins to tell you things that your mind does not, then you are getting the Spirit of the Lord.”
He smiled and said, “I think that’s happening to me already.”
“Then don’t wait too long,” I said to him.
A few weeks later I received a telephone call from him. He said, “Next Saturday I am going to be baptized a member of the Church, because my heart has told me things my mind did not know.”
He was converted. He saw what he should have seen. He heard what he should have heard. He understood what he should have understood, and he was doing something about it. He had a testimony.
Speaking to persons with a testimony, the Lord has said: “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (3 Ne. 18:24–25.)
It is the Savior who provides direction for all who need it. The apostle John said of him, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:9, 4, 5.)
That is the light that you have. Every one of us has been born with that light, the light of Christ, which lightens all of us that come into the world, and it never ceases to strive with us, to warn us, to guide us, as long as we are keeping the commandments of God. Thus, when we have a testimony, we are expected to use it for the benefit of others, as Peter was instructed: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
All of us have so many, many opportunities to strengthen others. It may be our own brothers and sisters. It may be our own friends. It may be a neighbor or a new acquaintance. It may even be our own parents. Now that’s a great concept, isn’t it—parents and youth strengthening one another. Let me show you what I mean.
The president of the Cardston Temple told me this incident. He said, “A group of young people came to go through the temple for the first time to do baptisms for the dead. After they had gone through two or three baptismal sessions and were about ready to go back home, I suggested that they could come down to my office and I would attempt to answer any questions they might have. I talked to them about their own baptisms. I said, ‘After your own baptism, you were told to receive the Holy Ghost, which means that the Holy Ghost will guide and bless you if you are worthy. If anyone should oppose you, or bring harm to you, you can overcome that opposition by the influence of the Holy Ghost.’
“I looked around and saw a pleasant young girl sobbing. She said, ‘When I was baptized, my mother cursed me. Every time I would go out she was vile and called me wicked names. When I told her I was going to the temple, she profaned and said I was no daughter of hers. I have been fasting ever since I left home that here in the temple I would be given a guide and the power to overcome the opposition of my mother. I was going away disappointed. But now, at the last moment, you have given me the key.’ A smile lit up on her face as she said, ‘I am going to bring Mother within the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost which I have a right to enjoy.’”
Then the president said, “Weeks went by, and a letter came from this girl. The letter said, ‘When I returned home and entered the house, mother greeted me similarly to the way she had when I left, by profaning. On other occasions I had fought back, but this time I walked over and put my arm around her shoulder and said, “Mother, I am not going to quarrel with you today. I want you to come over on the couch and sit down beside me. I want to tell you something.” This surprised Mother. As we sat down, we touched cheeks so that in actuality the Spirit would emanate from me to her, and I bore my testimony. I told her what a wonderful experience I had had in the temple. And to my amazement, Mother burst into tears and begged my forgiveness.’
“The girl closed her letter by saying, ‘We are now preparing Mother to be baptized a member of the Church.’”
“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” said the Savior. That is my message to you, because it is the Savior’s message. Our number one responsibility is to see that we are converted, and then to convert others.
I would pray that you could feel the love flowing from my soul to yours, and know of my deep compassion toward each of you as you face the problems of today. The time is here when each of you must stand on your own feet. Be converted, because no one can endure on borrowed light. You will have to be guided by the light within yourself. If you do not have it, you will not stand.
May the Lord bless you and clothe you with the armor of righteousness, that you might be able to stand steadfast through whatever trials may be yours in the days that lie ahead.