What sticks out to you in this passage?
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the awords of eternal life.
70 Jesus answered them, Have not I achosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
I have time and time again thought about “Lord, to whom shall we go?” I’ve gone back again and again to this question as times have been hard or painful things are happening or even going to church is hard and I’m thinking about just giving it all up. But I can’t. In all of the difficulties and issues with myself and sometimes the people around me I cannpt deny what I know so where else would I go?
But this time it was verse 70 that popped out to me. Here is why.
Through all the times of difficulty and pain and all of the stuff that I have gone through I have had an opportunity to serve at church in some capacity. sometimes it has been in leadership and sometimes it has been as a teacher and sometimes in an administrative way. I have done this work. Sometimes well and sometimes very poorly. but I was always given a chance to serve.
Now these opportunitites to serve at church benefit everyone just like all service. When you serve you benefit those around you and you also get some blessings yourself. Often the blessings that come to you through service is an increase of light into your life. You are changed for the good and become more Christlike – that is, if you allow that to happen.
A Little Story
I remember one time period where I was a teacher in Primary (the children’s organization). I was the teacher for the 10 and 11 year olds. The class was mostly boys. If you have ever been around 10 and 11 year old boys you know that they are silly and funny and super annoying. I came to church each week with an attitude and left at the end feeling very crabby. They wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t be quiet, they annoyed the 2 girls in the class and they annoyed me. Most weeks at least one of them ended up sitting in a chair outside the door of the classroom and I felt as if I was in the right to do that.
When I was released from that position and asked to do something else I was overjoyed and I privately celebrated. I hated that calling.
Now when I look back on that time I am ashamed. Those boys were silly and annoying and troublemakers and terrible, Yes. But I was unprepared, unyielding, unimaginative, cranky and not at all filled with the Spirit so that I could teach that class with power. There were so many things I could have tried to show those boys that I loved them and cared about their wellbeing but instead I went in ready for battle each week,
They didn’t learn a thing in that class and neither did I. What does this have to do with the verses above? Well, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father know us. They know us better than we know ourselves sometimes. We are given opportunities to serve over and over again. Soemtimes these opportunities are assignments and callings. They know we are imperfect and that we will sometimes fail miserably – often due to our own shortcomings – but we also could have husge success if we trust in Jesus to help us through it. If, while we are trusting in him, we also put in the work we can gather light into our souls as Dieter F Uchtdorf said in the last General Conference. We can be improved and developed and move further down that road to becoming the kind of people that God wants us to be.
Judas was given that opportunity to change and improve. Jesus knew exactly who he was when He called hom to follow. You might be thinking that Judas was necessary for the plan. That without Judas’s betrayal the the cross wouldn’t have happened. I don’t believe that. In John 10 we learn:
There are plenty of times that the men who wished to harm Jesus could have done it but it wasn’t time. When the time came I believe that if Judas hadn’t done what He did it would have happened by some other means.
My point is, we are given chances over and over and over again to change, to improve, to become filled with the Light of Christ so that we can teach more people about the goodness of God and how much He loves His children and wants us to become more than we can even imagine is possible.
What Did I Learn
So let’s go back to my Primary calling. That was an opportunity to learn and even though I didn’t learn in the moment I have learned how I could have been different. There are several positions I have held in the church that I look back on and regret but I also can see how I would change what I had done to be better. Learning and growing and progressing while helping others along the way is the whole entire point. And it doesn’t end.
We can’t really know the end of Judas’s story. We don’t know the whole stiry and it isn;t for us to judge but it is there for us to learn from. And what I learned is that Jesus calls us all right where we are and then He works with us to hopefully change us but in the end we get to choose.