A light to the world

A contestant on a popular television show lights up the room the minute she walks in. Her eyes sparkle and she carries herself with a quiet confidence. Although she never mentions her membership in the Church, she tells the judges she doesn't smoke or drink and she doesn't watch R-rated movies. They compliment her purity and her sincerity.

Elsewhere, a young married couple begin a conversation with a fellow passenger on an airplane. When their membership in the Church is revealed in casual conversation he responds, "I thought there was something different about you."

Indeed, there is "something" radiating from all loyal followers of Christ who remain steadfast and immovable in the faith.

Jesus admonished His disciples to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). That light is more than mere symbolism. In modern revelation, the Lord says, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you."(Doctrine and Covenants 88:67).

That light can be an important guide for faithful people in a world where darkness seems to be gaining power in all quarters. Entertainment in all forms seems to glorify those who are loud, loutish, irreverent and suggestive. Popular songs glorify immoral behavior and make it seem attractive, rather than destructive.

Perhaps the most destructive force of all is pornography, which today tries to force itself uninvited into homes through the Internet. According to the Internet Filter Review, every second of every day a combined total of $3,075.64 is spent on pornography, 28,258 Internet users are viewing it in some form, 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines, and every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is completed in the United States.

Every person engaging in this activity is diminishing the light within him and putting money in the pockets of people whose sole aim is to enrich themselves at the expense of lustful desires.

At times, the gathering darkness can seem all-encompassing and overpowering. This can especially be true for young people living in areas where they are among the few who believe in the Savior and obey His commandments.

There are plenty of examples of others who faced similar, or worse, challenges throughout history.

Speaking to a group of young women a few years ago, President James E. Faust told the story of Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Rollins, who risked violence at the hands of an angry mob in Independence, Mo., as they gathered the scattered manuscripts of revelations given to Joseph Smith before they could be burned.

"I believe the light of the Lord directed Mary Elizabeth and Caroline as to what to do and where to go for safety," President Faust said. "Sisters, that light shines for you, and it will guide you as it did the Rollins girls. It will keep you safe even when danger lurks." ("Your Light — a Standard to All Nations," Ensign, May 2006.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley told Church members, "I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world." Speaking specifically to priesthood holders, he said, "You must eschew evil in all of its forms and take on the nature of goodness and decency, letting the light, the divine light, shine through your actions" ("An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World," Ensign, November, 2003.)

That light is never manifest as arrogance or a sense of superiority. Those things repel people. Rather, it is a light that attracts people and makes them want to know what it is that makes you so happy and content in a world where chaos, uncertainty and sorrow reigns. It is a tremendous power that can make all Latter-day Saints tools in the hands of the Lord.

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