From David, your brother in Christ, to the youth ministry at First Baptist Church in Pasadena, those brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I have had the pleasure of spending the summer.
I wanted to begin by thanking God for giving me the opportunity of working with each and every one of you for the past three months. I consider each moment a blessing, I truly do, and I think it would be sinful of me to not also extend my gratitude out to each of you as well for welcoming me in and making the job not feel like work at all. I have thoroughly enjoyed each moment spent with you all, and before I headed away, I felt the need to, at the very least, extend that gratitude. So thank you. Of course, I will be returning quite frequently to check in on you and make sure I am not totally absent from your lives, but wanted to still send a letter of encouragement to you as your new school year quickly approaches.
It is said that a small light can disrupt even the deepest of darkness. A small match can light a dark room, the sun before reaching the horizon can cast brilliant and bright colors all across the morning sky, and even the faintest light at the end of a tunnel can give even the most desperate of wanderers a hopeful chance of survival. Darkness can be a terrifying thing, but with just a small amount of light, the darkness will flee in terror.
The reason I say this to you is because as you go into this next school year I want you to remember Christ’s words to us: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus, who is the Light, has likewise called us to be the light, a feat which is only possible through the unity we attain through Him thanks to His death and resurrection in times past. He calls you, He calls me, He calls all of us to be the light, and as we know by now, even a small light can overpower the greatest darkness.
But now I ask you this: Who told you that your light was small?
You have heard that we as Christians should be like a ray of sunlight shining through a sea of black clouds, but I say to you that instead, we should shine so bright that all the clouds are forced to scatter in fear. You have heard it said that if God is the sun then we should be the moon, reflecting His light for the people of all the earth, but instead I say that we should not be the moon but should instead be the rays of sun itself, carrying the message of God directly from its source in Christ Jesus to this darkened world on which we are called to shed light. Your light is not small; you have the power to shine so bright that people must squint just to stand in your presence. So why do you hide it? A light cannot cease to be light, so to hide who you truly are is to merely delude yourself and lie to those around you. Christ has made you a light, so shine, my friends, shine!
The way in which you can do this is a simple one, yet difficult to maintain: Remember who you are and stay true to what you have remembered. You are a child of the Father, made complete through your unity with the Son by the Spirit that now lives inside of you. Do you see what I just said? You are complete. Whole. In need of nothing, not a single thing. Nothing can harm you – no sticks, no stones, no word of man. Your eternity is set and you now wait restlessly to go to that place where you belong, and until our Lord returns or calls you home, you have a task laid before you: to shine your light – to shine His light – to all the nations. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” The very name you bear – Christian – means “little Christ,” so every act you do and thing you say, way you treat others and way you treat yourself, will testify on His behalf, so I encourage you to display wisdom in all the things you say and do, for they serve as the ongoing testament of Jesus Christ. The Bible is continually unfolded and preached through your day-to-day actions, so keep your motives true. As you go back to school it is far too easy to be lead astray, but I implore you to fight the good fight; “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Remember your influence and remember who you represent. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” You are in this world, yet not of it…so refrain from living in the ways of the world! Oh my brothers and sisters, I, so indebted to Christ through the sins I daily commit, know how easy it is to stray from the straight and narrow path, but I also know how worthwhile it is to strive to stay on it. “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!”
We are called to be perfect, just as Christ was perfect, and while we ourselves will never achieve that goal during our time on this earth, our love for God bids us to try.
So refrain from sin. Refrain from worldliness. By all means, refrain from sexual immorality, for it is far too common amongst those that surround us. Refrain from drunkenness and slander and jealousy. Become like a child, relying entirely on the sovereign Father who wants the very best for your life. His plans are still to prosper and He has not forgotten you; He is with you at all times, faithful forever and perfect in love. During our time together we have discussed the meaninglessness of all things under the sun, and I beg you to not go chasing after wind; instead, chase after that which will truly give your life meaning – to know Christ and to make Christ known.
In all things, remember these truths. When the world bids you go one way, plant yourself like a tree that is rooted in the Truth of God’s Word, that you might discern that which He wills you to do. When your friends gossip, fight to refrain. When your friends make obscene jokes, recognize that this is darkness through which you might shed light. When your friends are stressed or anxious or fearful, recognize that, through your completeness, you have no justified reason to stress or be anxious or fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear,” and you have experienced the truest of all loves when He died on that cross for your salvation. You need not fear the struggles or sins of the past, nor be anxious or stressed in regards to the things yet to come, for neither the past nor the future can harm you, who are complete through Christ. Instead, recognize that “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil,” for this is his lot. Without the past or the future to bring you down, you may enjoy the present – you may find the strawberries – and through this you may truly shine your light.
Oh, the impact you could have! Imagine a world of Christians who truly acted upon the promises that have been made to them by their loving Father. No more fear, no more stress, no more anxiety – just joy. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In this world of people who are constantly moping around, tired and stressed and anxious and depressed, you can be that shining light! So go out and display the glory of God, for your light is not small.
I will see you very soon, my friends, with some sooner than others. Until then, remain true to your faith, devote yourself to the Word, and maintain your determination to find your true meaning through Christ Jesus our Lord. You will stumble and you will fall, but our Lord, the God of grace and mercy and goodness and love, will be there to catch you before your feet leave the ground.
I, David, write this to you hoping that you know that if you ever need anything at all, I am here for you and always will be. My prayers will be with you, as I hope yours will be with me. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”