In anticipation of this year of Jubilee for Singapore, much has already been written about what it all means from the Christian perspective. Here is a personal view.
Jubilee is essentially a celebration of God’s favour; the Bible calls it “the year of the Lord’s favour”. If we have been able to last 50 years, it is only because God has been merciful and gracious: gracious in the sense that He had intervened in events so that they turned out for our good when we did not deserve it, and merciful in the sense that when we actually deserved the worst, He withheld judgment, thus sparing us.
After 50 years, some are looking again at our nation’s past, attempting to give it a different perspective. Others look upon this as rewriting history. What may have been overlooked is that God’s grace and mercy have been upon our nation. We are all familiar with this song:
There was a time when people said
That Singapore won’t make it, but we did
There was a time when troubles seemed too much
For us to take, but we did
We build a nation, strong and free, reaching out together
For peace and harmony
As Christians, it cannot be that we conceive all that we have on this tiny island came about solely on the basis that we made it – as if God had been absent from this land, until one day He showed up when the Western missionaries arrived. That would make all that has happened simply an accident of history, or out of pure human effort.
Singapore did not come about only by virtue of a few great men and the contribution of the pioneer generation. There was the invisible hand of God orchestrating the resources available here. He was here long before the missionaries came. In fact it was because He was here that He saw the urgency of calling people like Thoburn and Oldham to come. There was, and is, the fine interplay of human free will and the grace of God weaving His plans and purposes for the people on this corner of the earth He created.
The Lord of Heaven and Earth has not dusted off His hands and left us to a Godless fate. He continues to be at work in our midst. While we as a church preach the gospel to all, believing the best that God has for humanity is to be found in Jesus Christ, His concern for all is always there.
Regardless of whether one believes in Jesus, God seeks that there be justice, righteousness, peace, love and joy for all people. His ultimate goal remains that we “may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” (John 10:10, Amplified Bible).
So it must be as we move into the future, post-Jubilee. There will be changes in the way we live and organise ourselves. It must however not be conceived and undertaken as a God-less venture. He was here long before many of us came into existence. He will still be here long after we are gone.
While there will be celebrations of Jubilee in a ‘secular’ manner, as Christians, those can never be the only way for us. Jubilee has a spiritual content. Join in the celebrations of both kinds. But let our presence in the midst of them be the means whereby the favour of God upon us in the past, present and future is honoured as well.
|Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup –
was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2012.
He has been a Methodist pastor for 30 years.