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Spiritual Spinach

Passing the test of faith

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It’s one of my favorite Star Trek episodes.

Called “Lower Decks,” the show is part of The Next Generation series, which features Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard.

“Lower Decks” could be compared to the old British TV series, “Upstairs Downstairs” or even the more recent “Downton Abbey.”

Both depict the lives of servants, who live downstairs, and their bosses, who live upstairs.

“Lower Decks” is a little different, however, because it involves the senior officers aboard the Starship Enterprise and their junior officers.

One of the junior officers is an ensign named Sito Jaxa.

Sito is a sweet, dedicated, young officer who’s up for a promotion.

But Sito’s past has a dark spot.

While still at Starfleet Academy, she was part of a squadron that tried a daring, but forbidden flight maneuver that led to a cadet’s death.

Pressured by their squad leader, the other cadets tried to cover up their deadly mistake until one finally confessed. The squad leader was expelled and the other cadets lost a year of academic credits.

Sito eventually graduates and is assigned to the Enterprise, where her work is exemplary.

In “Lower Decks,” she’ll get a chance redeem herself — showing courage and depth of character — in an episode I find especially poignant.

Recently, I was watching this episode when I thought about a Bible times man, who not only got a second chance, but who — under the power of the Holy Spirit — helped bring others to saving faith in Christ.

That man was Peter.

When we meet Peter in the Scriptures, he’s a fisherman called by Jesus to become a disciple.

Peter answers that call and his life is never the same.

He sees Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and feed a multitude of people with five small loaves of bread and two fish.

If anyone has a front row seat to the miracles of Jesus, it’s Peter.

Peter loves Jesus and even says he’d die with him.

That’s when Jesus gives Peter a reality check.

“Before the rooster crows today, you’ll disown me three times,” Jesus tells him.

Sure enough, after Jesus is arrested and taken away, Peter is asked about being associated with Christ.

You’d think such a bold disciple would speak up.

But Peter is scared and he denies — three times — that he even knows Jesus.

After the third time, Peter hears a rooster crowing.

It all happened just like Jesus said it would.

The distraught disciple hurries away and weeps bitterly.

Yet the story doesn’t end there.

Jesus is crucified and rises from the dead three days later. He reunites with his disciples, including Peter.

Three times — the same number of times Peter denied him — Jesus will ask the disciple if he loves him.

And three times, Peter says “yes.”

Each time, Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep — meaning he wants the disciple to share the soul-saving message we call the Gospel.

Kind of like Sito, Peter takes advantage of his second chance.

But it’s more than an opportunity to show courage and character.

Peter seizes the opportunity to share the life-changing, good news.

With the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter will preach a knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark sermon and 3,000 people believe the Gospel and are saved.

Peter goes on to write a couple faith-filled letters to the early church.

We find these letters in the New Testament.

In one, Peter talks about the living hope believers have through Christ’s resurrection.

It’s the hope of an inheritance that won’t perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for believers.

Because of this, Peter said believers can rejoice — even though they’ve been grieved by various kinds of trials. Their tested faith is genuine and more precious than gold, which is proven to be pure when tested by fire.

We go through all sorts of trials and tests in this life. Some are short and sharp. Some are seemingly endless. We can go through wildly storm-tossed times and desert-like seasons.

Some tests we pass.

Others we fail only to take them again.

Peter may have faltered on a test of courage when he denied knowing Jesus.

But he passed it when he preached to that crowd and later continued to share the good news even though he faced some time in prison.

Church tradition indicates Peter later was martyred by being crucified upside down, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.

Whether he actually died that way or not, I’d say Peter lived his life right-side up — trusting and loving his Savior and helping others come to know and love Christ.

As for the “Lower Decks” episode, I learned it was pretty popular with fans when it aired many years ago. More recently, there’s been an animated show based on the premise, which I haven’t seen.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever watch it.

One thing I know:

No matter how popular a science fiction show is, it won’t beat the inspiration and encouragement I get when reading not only about Peter, but about our loving Savior, whose character, courage and love is unmatched.

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly faith-based column.

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Editor’s note: Tammy Real-McKeighan has been on vacation this week. This is one of her previous columns.

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