During times of darkness, turmoil, and uncertainty - we find ourselves turning to the one true source of light, hope, and peace. He set the example of loving and serving others and charged us to do the same. As we follow Him, we covenant to help those in need and to testify of Christ throughout our lives.1
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, The National Gallery in London evacuated thousands of important paintings to Wales for safe keeping.2 However, the general public pressured the government to return some of the art, and a decision was made to have one painting a month on show to the public in order to lift morale. A letter published in 'The Times' in January 1942 explained, “Because London’s face is scarred and bruised these days, we need more than ever to see beautiful things.”
The first ‘picture of the month’ chosen by the people was Noli me Tangere (“Touch me Not”) by Italian artist Titian.3 The picture depicts the resurrected Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. Finding the tomb empty after His death, she mistakes Him for the gardener and implores Him to tell her where he has moved Christ’s body. As He calls out to her, she recognises His voice and, in doing so, realises His true identity: her Saviour and “Master.” 4
We have witnessed significant turmoil this year. Like Titian's Mary, we may find ourselves looking for the Saviour. President Nelson reminds us that Jesus is the “light that shines in the dark.” 5 The Saviour taught his followers “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” 6
One way we can follow the Saviour is by keeping our covenant to help those in need. When the prophet Alma taught about the baptismal covenant, he said we should be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” 7
The Saviour is our greatest example of service. Despite the challenges, threats, and persecution he faced, He “went about doing good.” He spent His ministry on earth blessing, serving, and assisting others. The atonement of Jesus Christ was itself a supernal expression of love, sacrifice, and service to mankind. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 8
Sadly, this is not what the world teaches. It tells us we should look out for ourselves, that happiness is found in purchases, consumerism, and the accolades of peers.9 The Saviour suggested a very different path for His disciples. It was a path less preoccupied in “having” and more focused on “being.” In particular, he instructed us to be loving, kind, forgiving, merciful, patient, meek, gentle, long-suffering, and humble. His direction was less concerned with “saving your life.” Instead, he invited us to “lose” ourselves in caring and loving others.
Jesus Christ spent His time serving and helping all, and as His disciples, we are invited to do likewise. The Saviour said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” 10
Opportunities to serve others are limitless. It can be something as simple as a smile or a kind word. Time spent listening. A gesture of caring, especially for those who may be overlooked, forgotten, socially isolated, or marginalised in your community.
Service blesses others but it also blesses us in significant and meaningful ways. It can help us feel God’s love for us, as well as take us away from our worries, fears, anxieties, and doubts.11 Simple, regular acts of service are manifestations of our love for God and others. Elder Uchtdorf said, “When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears, and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound.” 12
May I suggest three things we can all consider.
- Be still. Jesus Christ is the light that shines in the dark.
- Be a light. You can be a light in your home, family, and community as you help those in need and testify of Christ throughout your life.
- Do good. Simple acts of service will bring joy, hope, and peace to many.
Jesus Christ is the light we seek during times of darkness, turmoil, and uncertainty. He has invited each of us to be a “light” to the world. There is someone we know in need, someone we can lift and strengthen. This is the work we have been called to do. It is His work. In doing so, we will discover our true identities as children of a loving Father in Heaven.
- ‘Come unto Me’ by President Henry B. Eyring, April 2013
- Letter from London: Art During Wartime by Ben Street, Art 21 Magazine, 23 September 2008.
- The National Gallery; Picture of the month, October 2019: Noli me Tangere
- John 20:14-18
- ‘Seven truths that have power to transform your life and others’ by President Russell M. Nelson, Orlando Florida, Sunday 9th June 2019.
- John 8:12
- Mosiah 18:8–9
- John 15:13
- ‘To have or to Be’ by Erich Fromm, 1976
- John 13:35
- ‘A Hallmark of the Lord’s True and Living Church’ by Elder Patrick Kearon, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, May 6, 2018, Brigham Young University–Idaho
- ‘The Love of God’ by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2009