Friday, May 10, 2013

How Converts Reinvigorate the Church, Jacob 5:17-18

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In Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree, the Lord of the vineyard notices the main tree is beginning to die, and he first takes contingency measures to preserve the strain by taking tender branches and grafting them elsewhere, but he also takes steps to try to save the main root that is decaying.  Here we see a lovely analysis of how converts reinvigorate the church.

17 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard looked
and beheld the tree in the which the wild olive branches had been grafted;
and it had sprung forth and begun to bear fruit.
And he beheld that it was good;
and the fruit thereof was like unto the natural fruit.
18 And he said unto the servant:
Behold, the branches of the wild tree have taken hold of the moisture of the root thereof, that the root thereof hath brought forth much strength;
and because of the much strength of the root thereof
the wild branches have brought forth tame fruit.
Now, if we had not grafted in these branches,
the tree thereof would have perished.
And now, behold, I shall lay up much fruit,
which the tree thereof hath brought forth;
and the fruit thereof I shall lay up against the season, unto mine own self.
(Jacob 5:17-18)

So here’s what the process looks like in real life.  New converts with their burning enthusiasm for the gospel express their eagerness to learn.  They see how strong the long-time members really are, and they see how much they really know, and they ask questions.  They frequently say how they wish they could have grown up in the church knowing what long-time members know.  This is like the branches of the wild tree taking hold of the moisture of the root.  (Though the wild branches represent Gentiles in old times converting to the gospel with the house of Israel, it can also represent the process with converts today.)

Anyway, when the converts take hold of the strength of the members, this awakes long-time members to see anew their blessings, remember how privileged their position is, and awakens an interest in helping and teaching the convert what the life of a Saint is.  This is like the root bringing forth its strength.  In doing so, the long-time members are reinvigorated, and all bring forth good fruit of good works.

What this shows us is that if we are feeling weak in the gospel, we need someone to teach who will really appreciate what we have to share, who will remind us by their enthusiasm and faith just what blessings we have.

In the early days of the church, when there was a growing apostasy in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith received revelation to send missionaries to England.  Those missionaries brought new converts back to the States, and the converts’ enthusiasm reinvigorated the church.  It may have seemed like an odd thing to do, but it was just what the church needed, and it was perfectly in line with the principles in the allegory of Zenos.