January 23, 2017
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Today I would like to talk about this scripture, and more importantly the personally significant it has in my life.
This is a very famous scripture. It is directly from the lips of the Savior himself, spoken during his sermon on the mount. In this scripture light is used as a symbol (as it often is) to describe how we as followers of Christ are examples.
The nature of light strike me as wondrous. When light enters a room, it fills the darkness which allows us to see. Darkness doesn’t overpower light. Yet there is a limitation to light—it cannot travel beyond an object. No matter if it be a wall, or a covering, or us—light simply cannot move past something that is in the way. A bushel, as used in this scripture, simply means something that covers or blocks the light.
What Christ is saying is that we need to let the light which we have shine, so that darkness can be chased away, and we can see. And just in case you didn’t know this, that light is the Gospel, or a testimony of the Gospel, depending on how you look at it.
Yet in my own life I struggled with this. Growing up in areas that are not predominantly LDS made me feel like I stood out, or a Christ put it, it made me feel as if I was set on a hill.
And for me as a nerdy little kid growing up, I did not want to be the center of attention, I wanted to enjoy my life and be happy; and I believed that being in some kind of spotlight would shatter the happiness I had. So, I hid my light.
Since I was little I always had a testimony of the Gospel: I believed in Jesus Christ, I knew I had a Heavenly Father, and I even had a pretty good witness that the Book of Mormon was true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That testimony—that light, which I had was precious to me—in fact it was sacred to me. Yet I was afraid that if I shared it, it would be cast aside and that nobody would see how truly important it was to me. So I hid my light.
As time went on and I grew up that light which I hid was definitely fading. My testimony was fading. I still believed, but not with the same heart I did when I was younger. To me, the Gospel made sense intellectually and I basically I decided that if I had to bet on if God was real or not, I would bet on him being real, as I didn’t have much to lose if I was wrong. Reflecting on this time it amazes me to see that when a light is hid, it does not stay the same—it shrinks.
Perhaps Christ thought of this when he used a candlestick as the source of the light, or, to be more plain, fire. Fire is symbolic in so many ways, but in this case I see the importance of fire in two different ways. First, fire gives off light. Second, fire will go out if it doesn’t have oxygen. If you cover a flame it will use up all of its oxygen and die. Therefore, in the case of this scripture it is possible to lose that light, or testimony, but only if you keep it covered.
Which I did.
So, that testimony suffered, and probably the only thing that keep it going at all was attending church. But I soon found that a dim light covered by fear doesn’t help much.
In high school I went through a really rough spot in my life, that as far as I know nobody knows about. I don’t wish to go into detail about it here, but I’ll just say I didn’t have much hope in myself at all. My light was on the verge of going out, and it scares me, I didn’t know what to do.
But God knows what to do. And as it happens, one day in AP United States history, near the end of the year we had a project in which we could research any part of American History in depth and make a presentation on it. Earlier that year we spent about ten minutes covering Mormon history, and since I am a Mormon it made me really excited to study that. So when it came time to pick a project, I picked a project about the Mormon pioneers.
Without a doubt in my mind I can say that that was one of the most important decisions of my life. For the first time in such a long time I was going to be open about my heritage as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My topic, Mormon pioneers, did not even touch really religious subjects like prophets or faith, but to me I was never more excited, or more scared to present anything. It was the project that I researched the most for, the project that I read the most sources for, and most importantly it was the project I cared about the most.
I will never forget that project; not for the conversations that it opened up about religion—it didn’t lead to much discussion; not for the grade which I got—yes, I got an A; not even for what I learned from it—a deep admiration for Mormon pioneers. I will never forget this project because what it represented to me. This project was me casting the covering from off of the fire and letting it breath. This was me letting my light, no matter how dim or unkempt, shine. This was me putting my faith in my savior and saying I want to return to live with my Father in Heaven again.
And I was amazed. That light, which I had hid and covered, grew. And though it may have only affected me, I felt like I could finally see again. I felt as if I had again a hundred witnesses that God lives, that the Church is true, that Jesus is my savior, that I am a son of God! That increase of light which I got from that project has grown since then. It has only been fanned as of late. To me the Gospel is real. To me it is real because I saw it change me, and I saw light come back into my life.
I want to finish this extremely long post by declaring my witness, that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and Redeemer. That his scriptures contain the words of eternal life. That Joseph was called to be a prophet and restore the light of Christ to the world. That the greatest joy I have ever felt in my life came from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
And just because I want to take up even more of your time today.
Additional Resources: Scriptures:
– Luke 11:33-34
– 3 Nephi 18:24
– D&C 50:24
– John 3:16-21
see JST – D&C 88
Regards from Elder Brown.