I grew up in Taiwan so it was inevitable that there would be some cultural shock when I went abroad for graduate study. An important experience came the first December I spent in a small mid-west city in the United States. It was so peaceful and joyful in the Christmas season. People showed their kindness and generosity to all people including strangers. I was a foreign student, and I could feel the Christ-like love flowing all around in the local community. That was something I had never experienced. Later I realized that this was a direct outcome from the teachings of Jesus Christ, found in Mathew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.
Although I enjoyed the warm environment in the Christmas season very much, I did not yet know the scripture, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Or as is pointed out by our Savior in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” What a powerful declaration, that we will not be lost in the darkness, and we can have the light of eternal life if we follow our Savior and hold up His light. Jesus made this clear when he taught the Nephites in 3 Nephi 18:24,
“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up.”3 Nephi 18:24
It was not easy for me to recognize the true light, let alone know how to let that light shine. It took years for me to learn from my wife, missionaries, and many faithful members as I watched their patience, love, and good examples. I learned to pray, to read the scriptures, to humble myself, to forgive, and to not lean on temporal power. Eventually I was baptized and entered onto the to the covenant path.
It is always challenging to hold up the light, letting it shine in our daily lives. Fortunately, we can be strengthened by our covenants every week when we partake of the sacrament. In John 6:53, Jesus let his disciples know explicitly “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” We have the great blessing of removing the darkness from our lives and living a brighter life by renewing these covenants weekly. We bear Jesus’ name and keep His commandments in our daily lives in order to shine Christ’s light.
We also have the privilege of receiving the revelation received by the living prophets. In the 2019 April General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson taught, “we can do better and be better.” If we follow his advice we will repent and it will “change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe” (Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” Ensign or Liahona, April 2019). If we do this, we will be more Christ-like and have His countenance. That for sure will shine light to people around us.
A striking example of holding up the light of Christ is found in the Book of Mormon in the 24th chapter of Alma. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies had enormous faith in Jesus Christ and when confronted by the Lamanites they declared they would rather be slain than stain their own swords with the blood of their enemies, whom they saw as their brethren. They allowed themselves to be killed rather than engage in battle. Many of the enemy warriors were so moved that they repented of the things they had done and at the end of the day more souls were converted to Christ than were killed in battle. These Lamanites saw the true light and joined themselves to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. That turned a gloomy dark scene into one of the brightest moments in human history.
As we embrace the Christmas season this year, we should use this opportunity to shine our light. This should be the goal of every one of Jesus’ disciples. We just need to live a gospel life, show our gratitude, share our faith, practice kindness and forgiveness, and follow our Savior to serve and bring more people closer to the source of light. Let your light shine with Jesus in this wonderful season. People will see miracles happen!