The Brilliant Room
Since being elected your TeenPact President and Vice President, Zachary McCue and I have experienced God teaching us so much these past few months. We intend to use our platform to continue to inspire youth in their relationship with Christ, and we want you to join us. Please pray that our student body government would have wisdom and insight for our decisions and plans.
God has taught me so much about what it means to be “Children of Light.” Foundational to this message is the idea that we must be “with” the Light, living in true Christian community. God has radicalized my view of what it means abide in Him, to walk in His light—not hiding in His shadow.
During our presidential campaign, Vice President McCue and I used the analogy of God being light. The idea is that we are candles whose purpose is to burn and blaze just like our Father God, who is Himself the Light. Think about a room, brilliant and bright, filled with burning candles. God Himself is in that room, shining through His human image-bearers. This room is the church. This room is the body of Christ. This room is Christian community. Now, let’s add some additional candles to this glowing place. Each candle adds to the light, making this holy place that much warmer and brighter.
However, there are even more candles that are in the presence of the Light, but they are not glowing themselves. You see, an unlit candle may appear to be a part of the Light while in the presence of other burning candles, without burning itself. So why am I bringing this up? Seeing the light is good and beautiful, but here’s the thing. Candles are not created to see light, but to be light. Singing worship songs at National Convention is good and beautiful and is an experience that should be treasured, but we were not made be in the auditorium at National Convention. We were made to go into the world.
The Holy Spirit lights the fire inside of us, calling us to leave that room, plunging us into a world of darkness, and so the light spreads. It’s an incredible thought—to think of how all of these candles blaze brilliantly together, encouraged and inspired by the one another’s flames as they go forth—boldly and bravely preaching truth to a world full of deception and lies. We spread a message of how we have been brought from darkness into a marvelous light.
It’s dangerous—even sad—to consider unlit candles sitting in the room of light, only to be sent out into a world of darkness and pain and suffering with no true Light to guide the way.
It is so easy to go to National Convention without the light, to feel energized and liberated by the light while there, and then to crash and burn on our way home. But maybe the reason we do this is because although we felt the presence of God around fellow believers, we never have personally felt or seen it in ourselves. It’s a scary thought. But it explains why so many people experience this drawback when Christian community is suddenly lost, (a.k.a. the ride home from any TeenPact event). We’re trying to find God in the Christian Community, but we aren’t finding God in Christ Himself.
Candles are meant to be used in this dark world—to burn and blaze, representing the Father that sent them. We are mobilized by the church. Weekly meetings with fellow believers offers us a brief, Brilliant Room experience. Yet the rest of the time, we are called to immerse themselves in the dark edges and corners of life—all because we abide in, and have, the Light.
This post is for all of the students that have seemed to feel God when with others, but never alone. I challenge you to examine yourself—are you illuminating Christ to the world? Because if you only find God in the Christian Church or the Christian community, you may not truly know God. Our God is not a Christian—our God is Christ. Christians are imperfect representations of the God they serve, but Christ is all-satisfying. The Brilliant Room isn’t God, even if God is present in that room. There are all sorts of shadows in this room, shadows that may frustrate and confound. So many people choose to reject the God of the Church, not because of anything He is, but because they have found His Church to be imperfect. But that’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. Until we walk the paths of life with the Light Himself, we will forever find the the church and Christian community fundamentally lacking, and God Himself will seem dissatisfying.
To recap: It is easy to trick ourselves into believing that we walk with God Himself by immersing ourselves in Christian community, only to find that without the community, we are godless and hopeless. We also run the risk of then identifying God to be the church— that illuminated room, which is still an imperfect, albeit redeemed, group of people. In the end, our lack of a genuine one-on-one relationship with Christ leads us to equate time spent with Christian community as time spent with God.
Christian community doesn’t start with Christians. It starts with Christ Himself. You will be forever dissatisfied with it, if you seek to fill a God-sized hole with a surplus of sinful people. When we try to find community in Christianity, and not in Christ Himself, we will continue to find emptiness.
Yet everything is illuminated, and all makes sense, when we place God at the center of it. The more time we spend with our wise and holy Father, who yearns so badly for us to know Him, the more things start to make sense. The valley of the shadow of death—DEATH—is no longer as terrifying, and death’s sting is dulled. Why? Because God Himself overwhelms it with grace, giving us the ability to experience joy, love, and peace—a reverent, holy, unexplainable peace—that surpasses all understanding. God yearns for you to join His Christian community of lights. However, He first wants you to drink fully of Him, and to find joy in Him, and to see Him as the light shining in this dark world. Then, and only then, can we come together faithfully as an imperfect Church body and all truly worship in the Brilliant Room.
– President Alexander Hale