Explorers of Light
It’s an honor to be with you today. As I’ve pondered over the last several weeks about what I would say, I have felt the Spirit enlighten my mind and my testimony has been strengthened.
As a designer I work with color on a psychological level to create the right sense and feeling in a space. Color is very personal to each one of us. Our reaction to color is almost instantaneous and has a profound impact on the choices we make every day. What is your favorite color?
Red = energy, holidays, passion, suffering, too much can raise blood pressure
Pink = soft, happy, sweet, too much can weaken people
Orange = happy, ambition, flamboyant
Yellow = cheerful, optimistic, improves creativity, too much causes babies to cry.
Green = growth, nature, money calming
Blue = calming, loyal, productive, cold
Violet = royalty, sophistication, wisdom, too much seems artificial
Brown = natural, reliable, friendship, too much can bring us down
Why do you like a certain color and what experience led you to like one color over another?
Each color correlates with a feeling or sensory response. Each one of us has a slightly different response to each color, based on our life experience.
Where does color come from?
Our modern understanding of light and color begins with Isaac Newton and a series of experiments he published over 300 years ago. He was the first to understand the rainbow. He refracted white light with a prism, which separated it into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
This is the visible spectrum of light, which is part of the everyday vocabulary of most people. The seven colors of the rainbow paint our world with beauty. The shades and combinations of the seven basic colors yield thousands of colors to thrill and characterize our world.
Thaya Gilmore, wrote in an1990 Ensign article titled “Painter of Light” the following. “Bill L. Hill is an artist with strong feelings about color and light. He believes that color is a channel through which truth can flow with great efficiency. ‘Color,’ he explains, ‘is one of the most pure channels of communication because it is a direct derivative of light.’ An inspired artist can use color to communicate truths that cannot be communicated by music, writing, or any other art.”
Color is a channel through which truth can flow with great efficiency.
Color can also take on a different look, based on what color surrounds it. All colors have their light/dark quality that depends on what company they are surrounded by.
There are two colors we haven’t defined yet; those colors are very significant to our discussion today, but paramount to our spiritual maturity. These colors are white and black, or light and dark
The Nature of White: We consider white a color. It is the composition of all the colors of light. White light is the medium for sight. Even though it contains seven colors, a beam of light appears white. “White as the driven snow - pure, clean, innocent,” “White knight - someone perceived as being good, noble,” “Life, energy, awakening,” “weddings.”
Light is one of the keys to divine revelation. Where there is light, there is God; but the true interpretation of that light is only possible by means of faith.
In the scriptures, white is often used as a symbol of purity. In nature, things appear white because they reflect all colors; whereas things that appear some other color absorb all colors except the color that they appear. Things that appear green absorb all colors of the spectrum except green, which they reflect. White is also indicative of high energy. Astronomers can estimate the surface temperature of stars based on their color. Red stars are the coolest, blue stars are hotter, white stars are the hottest.
In Matthew 17:1 & 2, we read that Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John on the mount.
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And in Genesis 1:1, 3&4 we read:
4 And God saw the light, that it wasgood: and God divided the light from the darkness.
The first thing God created was light. In the next verse, "God saw the light, that it was good." This means that light is divine, something that God did that had intrinsic value. The light also divided the darkness; so here is a contrast between light and darkness. They are distinct, separate, not the same. Light stands out as divine good.
The light was both real and symbolic. The real nature of light has physical properties. The academic discipline of physics has discovered many of the characteristics of that created light. Quantum mechanics even deals with the fundamental components of the particle structure of light energy,; so that this light is perceived as a basic building block of atoms. Light is the basis for all physical creation.
Joseph Smith recounts his experience with light in the Joseph Smith History 1:16 & 17:
17 When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Matthew 5:14 tells us, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
When it comes to bad connotations of white, a process called whitewashing is defined as a way to cover up, conceal, or deceive. Attempts to whitewash the devil's world are called “legalistic”. Our Lord Jesus Christ referred to such people as a whitewashed tomb. We read in Matthew 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Those who attempt to paint their own world or judge the works of others are engaged in legalism. Webster defines “legalism” as ‘strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law, especially to the letter rather than the spirit’.
From a 1984 Ensign talk, Elder Howard W. Hunter said, “The Pharisees were the largest and most influential of the three sects of Judaism at the time of Christ. The main characteristics of the Pharisees were their legalism and their legalistic inflexibility. They were known for their strict accuracy in the interpretation of the law and their scrupulous adherence to living the law in every detail. This caused them to be known as the strictest of Jewish sects in observing their tradition. They shunned the non-Pharisee as being unclean, thereby keeping themselves separated from those they considered to be the common people.”
By concealing or whitewashing our sins or judging others for not keeping the strictest letter of the law we are guilty of legalism.
The color black, on the other hand, is the absence of all color. Black can make other colors appear brighter. Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, and death. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown, like black holes. It usually has a negative connotation. Unless of course when it comes to clothing; black is visually slimming. Examples: Darkness refers to Satan's realm, and the Nature of Darkness.
Going back to the First Vision, we read the contrast and power between light and darkness. As Joseph Smith wrote in his history in Joseph Smith History 1:15 & 16:
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.“
Later, during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph had a very weak moment, due to peer pressure, when he gave Martin Harris the manuscript that later ended up in the hands of wicked and conspiring men. In D & C 10: 1 & 2, the Lord spoke to Joseph and said:
1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
2 And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened.
Do we ever have weak moments due to peer pressure? Does it bring darkness to our countenance?
We are born with the light of Christ. Because light and dark are distinctly separated, each time we make a bad choice we replace light with darkness, such as:
Rated R movies
Breaking the Word of Wisdom
Cheating on a test
Lying to a friend
We can replace darkness with light or maintain light in our soul by:
Reading the scriptures
Living the Honor Code
Saying personal prayers
As students, faculty, and staff here at LDS Business College, we are invited to live the Title of Honor – formerly known as the Honor Code—to have the Spirit and light in our lives to create a greater discipleship and more rapid learning. This also allows us to be a light to others.
President J. Larry Richards has said “When we fail to live the Title of Honor, it robs the offender and those around them of the Spirit. You don’t have the right to negatively influence the Spirit of those around you.” (President J. Larry Richards, Creating a Culture of Discipleship, 2009)
President Richards also said, “Adhering to the (Title of Honor) is a physical manifestation of a spiritual commitment.” (President J. Larry Richards, Creating a Culture of Discipleship, 2009)
President Henry B. Eyring said this about the Title of Honor: “That helps explain why a college president could care about such personal things as what students wear and how they and their teachers feel about keeping the commandments of God. To some, those would appear as details having nothing to do with education. But they have everything to do with education. Our vision is that the sacrifice of students and of teachers to learn and to teach is immeasurably more likely to bear fruit if the student and the teacher are bathed in the light of Christ. And that light is either invited or turned away by the lives we lead.” (President Henry B. Eyring, 1992)
Have you experienced being around an individual who emits light, or have you been in the presence of someone who actually takes light away from you? A couple of weeks ago I attended a stake priesthood leadership meeting where the second counselor to the stake president shared that there were several occasions when the president had walked from his office and his countenance was darker, based solely on who he was meeting with.
We either reflect light or we absorb light based on our obedience and choices.
President Eyring has also said, “Live so that light may flow into (your) lives, and with it understanding and power to work, to learn, and to live with deep satisfaction. (Henry B. Eyring 1992,)
The famous hymn , “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” (# 335) was written by Philip Bliss over a century ago. He was inspired by a sermon he heard while living in Chicago. In that sermon, the preacher talked about a ship that was trying to find Cleveland harbor in the midst of a storm at night. The captain could see the lighthouse. As he drew near, he shouted to the lighthouse keeper, "Is this Cleveland?"
The lighthouse keeper shouted back, "Quite true, sir."
The captain asked, "Where are the lower lights?"
The lighthouse keeper said, "They have gone out. Can you make the harbor?"
The captain replied, "We must, or we will perish!" With that he sailed his ship into the harbor, passed the lighthouse, missed the channel, and was dashed against the rocks. It was a terrible tragedy and many people were killed.
The lower lights are the lights away from the lighthouse that illuminate the water line. They're the lights that enable vessels to come into the harbor at night, through a narrow channel of the harbor's mouth.
The Lord will take care of the lighthouse. Let us keep the lower lights burning."
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
Philip P. Bliss, 1871
Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.
We are “A Light and a Beacon” to our classmates, roommates, families, and the world. As you leave this room today ask yourself this final question , “Do I shine a light for the world to see?”
Ponder these things and pray about them to know for yourself the importance of having light in your life. As you do so, you will be filled with light and knowledge.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.