3 Nephi 12:15-16 — LeGrand Baker — a light of this people

3 Nephi 12:15-16

14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven (3 Nephi 12:15-16).

The light that shins from our beings originated and continues in sacred space and sacred time. Its source is the true love and eternal friendships that have always animated our lives. In this world our love for our family and friends literally makes us more than we can otherwise become. It enlarges the very essence of our immortal being. As President McKay explains in the quote at the end of this little essay, we each have two identities. One is the physical person others can see. The other is the light [or darkness] that emanates from our person that others can feel. Our physical persons always remain separate from others, no matter how intimate with them we may be. But the light that shines from each of us merges with the light of others to create a oneness that is greater than our individual selves — a sublime intimacy whose very nature seeks to perpetuate itself into the eternities. This is reality, and there is no other. Everything in this world that we perceive as “real”— the things that we can touch, and see, and hear — all these things will pass away. Our bodies will die, but our spirit will live, and our intelligence — the source of the light with which we shine — will remain alive forever, and its ultimate definition will be the quality of love/light with which it shines. In our future spirit world and ultimately in our resurrection, the quality of our love/light will define us. Each of us will gravitate to those whose light is like our own. If that quality is celestial, then the relationships we enjoy in this life will perpetuate themselves into the eternities, and those who radiate pure celestial light will be one, just as the Savior prayed we might be (John 17).

Two scriptures that explain that eternal oneness are:

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (D&C 130:1-2).

40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever. …
67 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; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
68 Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will (D&C 88:40-41, 67-68).

In Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, Stephen and I wrote:

The mandate in the Beatitudes begins with the words, “I give unto you to be. …” They are not a suggestion, but a commission that is part of the definition of one who has been anointed to be a priest and sacral king. The previous commission “to be the salt of the earth” began with the same words. That was a charge to teach those who were not yet a part of the kingdom. The present one, “to be the light of this people,” is a charge to fulfill one’s covenants with regard to our relationship with the Saints of the Kingdom. It is about individual and communal friendships with each other and with God. “A city [Zion] that is set on a hill” was to be a place of sanctuary and peace. And while it is also a beacon toward which others might look, it is primarily the home of the pure in heart. Within Zion is a Temple, and within the Temple is the menorah, a “candlestick.”

Christ is the light and the life of the world, often represented as the Tree of Life—a tree of light. In the Holy Place in Solomon’s Temple there was a great menorah, the “candlestick” that was not a candlestick at all, but a lamp stand. It was shaped like a tree, which represented the tree of life whose three sets of branches lift toward heaven as in prayer, uttered three times. The cups at the ends of its upraised branches were filled with olive oil—the same kind of oil that was used to anoint priests and kings. The fires from these lamps lit the interior of the Temple, and symbolically the light reached out to light the rest of the world as well. Thus it became a burning bush that lights the way—the tree of life that invites one to come to the great multi-colored veil of Solomon’s Temple. It is a tree of anointing light.

The Savior asked, “Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel?” Then he responded to his own question. “ Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house.” His reference to a candlestick invites one’s mind into the Temple where the great Menorah stood just outside the veil. Thus the “house” would be the Temple, where the Saints may come at will. He adds, “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Who Shall Ascend into the House of the Lord, 689-90)

The Savior was speaking — not just to the Twelve — but to the entire congregation. The light of each was to enlighten and enhance the light of the others. This was a charge to bless and be blessed, to enlighten the enlightened, and to love and be loved by those who exuded charity.

In a message called “Radiation of the Individual” President David O. McKay explained:

Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is. Every person is a recipient of radiation. The Saviour was conscious of that. Whenever He came into the presence of an individual, He sensed that radiation — whether it was the woman of Samaria with her past life: whether it was the woman who was to be stoned, or the men who were to stone her; whether it was the statesman, Nicodemus, or one of the lepers. He was conscious of the radiation from the individual. And to a degree so are you. and so am I. It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.

As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them.

As it is true of the individual. so it is true of the home. Our homes radiate what we are, and that radiation comes from what we say and how we act in the home. No member of this Church — husband, father — has the right to utter an oath in his home, or ever to express a cross word to his wife or to his children. You cannot do it as a man who holds the priesthood and be true to the spirit within you by your ordination and your responsibility. You should contribute to an ideal home by your character, controlling your passion, your temper, guarding your speech, because those things will make your home what it is and what it will radiate to the neighborhood. ….

Church Members Should Radiate Love and Harmony

As men of the priesthood, as women of the Church, we have greater responsibilities than ever before to make our homes such as will radiate to our neighbors harmony, love, community duties, loyalty. Let our neighbors see it and hear it. Never must there be expressed in a Latter-day Saint home an oath, a condemnatory term, an expression of anger or jealousy or hatred. Control it! Do not express it! You do what you can to produce peace and harmony, no matter what you may suffer.

The Saviour set us the example. He was always calm, always controlled, radiating something which people could feel as they passed. When the woman touched His garment, He felt something go from Him — that radiation which is divine.

Each individual soul has it. That is you! The body is only the house in which you live.

The Church is reaching out, radiating not only by its prayers, its houses of worship and meetings, but now through television and radio it is radiating throughout the whole world.

God help us as members of the priesthood, as members of the Church. to radiate Faith. Love of humanity, Charity, Control, Consideration. and Service! (The Instructor, October, 1964, p. 373-374).


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