By John Lee
Comparing two songs
The NDP 2023 Theme Song is titled “Shine Your Light”. In this song, there is a line that says:
“Shine your light so bright for the world to see
(Through The Rain, Our Hearts remain the same)”
Some netizens expressed a view that this song sounds like a Christian worship song. I recall the familiar Christian worship song “Mighty to Save” which also has the words “Shine Your light” in in its lyrics:
“Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus”
There are differences between the two.
The NDP song is more upbeat. It is explained at https://tinyurl.com/4ptvm8k5 that the song is all about “reaffirming the ‘can-do’ and ‘go-getter’ spirit of Singaporeans and encouraging us to continue chasing our goals, overcoming adversities and helping others along the way. In doing so, everyone can shine a light and inspire others to give their best too.”
The Christian song is more solemn. It is about finding hope of salvation in Jesus.
In John 8:12, Jesus says of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In the Christian song, Jesus is the Hope of nations, and the words “Shine Your light” (with the Y in uppercase) is a supplication to Him to shine His light “and let the whole world see.”
In the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah describes a time when “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” This suggests that God’s light can bring hope to those who are living in spiritual darkness.
The NDP song is remarkable for its powerful expression of optimism in a world beset with uncertainties, and Singaporeans of all beliefs can enjoy it. It is good as a cheer for us to be a beacon upon the world by sharing our strengths and inspiration as we celebrate our nation’s 58th birthday.
As Christians, we love Singapore like all Singaporeans. However, it is natural for Christians to contemplate blessings beyond the physical and material aspects.
The Spiritual Dimension
We are thankful to God that Singapore is very much a blessed nation able to bless others. However, for all our blessedness, we are still imperfect. Beyond secular wellness, there are heavy-laden souls in need of hearing the Gospel and finding comfort in God’s grace and mercy.
In the LoveSingapore 40.Day 2023 season of prayer (1 July – 9 August 2023), Christians devote 40 days to join hearts in praying for Singapore in the 40 days leading up to National Day. They also take on board the devotional thoughts of 40 church and para-church leaders.
In Psalm 27, the psalmist acknowledges God as his light and his salvation. This suggests that God’s light can help us to find our way through the spiritual darkness of life.
Message from Bishop Rennis Ponniah
On the 2nd day of the 40.Day 2023, Bishop Rennis Ponniah (Retired 9th Anglican Bishop of Singapore) shared his devotional thought. (https://tinyurl.com/4fxr84ny) Here is an outline of his message:
The passage from Isaiah 49:5-6 is a call to the faithful in Singapore to:
- Be a light that calls the nation to the Living God.
- Be a light that reaches the nations of the world.
- Be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit so that they can be a radiant light that touches and transforms our nation and then reflects salvation and glory to the nations. The power to be such a light is not within us, but in God. We need to come to God, broken and empty and desperate, that He might mend us and fill us with the oil that causes His mighty light to shine through us. May this season of fasting and prayer be a time of calling out to God for the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that the faithful remnant in Singapore can grow and be the bright light that calls our nation Godward and shines on the nations of the world.
Jesus’ Light & Our Light
When we sing the Christian song “Mighty to Save”, we supplicate in earnest for Jesus to shine His light (to dispel the spiritual darkness) and let the world see the glory of our risen King.
When we sing the NDP song, we are inspired to shine our light which can be interpreted broadly to mean simply being a positive force in the world, or making a difference in the lives of others.
Be kind and compassionate to others, helping those in need, living a life of integrity, and standing up for what we believe in are some examples of Christian themes that are not in conflict with secular perspectives.
Mt 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
This verse suggests that when we live our lives in a way that reflects Jesus’ love, compassion, and service to others, we are shining His light into the world. This light can help to dispel the darkness of sin and evil, and it can point people to Jesus as the source of hope and salvation.