"Go! Shine your light upon the world." Mention this one-liner to any primary school-going child, chances are he or she will next burst into song.
After all, as I was told, primary schools in Singapore have been familiarising students with the National Day Parade (NDP) theme song since a month ago in July. This year's NDP theme song is titled "Shine Your Light", and "Go! Shine your light upon the world" forms the starting verse of its catchy chorus.
According to its main composer Don Richmond, "Shine Your Light" was produced to be a feel-good, upbeat, and infectious song. It was meant to reflect Singapore's emergence out of the recent Covid-19 pandemic. If 2022 marked the close of a dull chapter for Singapore, then 2023 ought to start off brighter. And "Shine Your Light" would do exactly that, to galvanise Singaporeans to brighten up the world.
As citizens residing in Singapore, each of us has a personal responsibility to contribute to and build up the nation in ways big and small. Specifically, in response to the NDP theme song, citizens are called to shine their light upon the world. Although the song does not define what shining one's light entails, I believe it implies bringing hope and warmth to the lives of the people around.
The clarion call to “shine one’s light upon the world” is well known to Christians. In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, He taught that the disciples are light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Jesus expounded that just as how a city set on a hill cannot be hidden, a lamp is to be put not under a basket but on a stand, so that its light can radiate and light up the whole house. The disciples are to let their light shine before others.
But what does it exactly mean to shine before others? Here, Jesus is plain that the disciples are to shine through their good works (Matthew 5:16). The apostle Paul exhorted the believers in Philippi to shine as lights in the world through their blameless and innocent character (Philippians 2:15). In a nutshell, the disciples and by extension, we as followers of Christ today, can shine as light of the world by doing good works and demonstrating good character.
That said, while we shine as light before others, our light is but a shadow of the Light. Jesus said this of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) As much as good works and good character are important, in shining as lights in the world, we must not be an end in ourselves. Our light i.e., good works and good character must all point towards the Light – Jesus Christ, the light of life. We can only and truly shine, because of Christ who is the Light of the world, who gives life eternal.
So, wherever the Lord has placed each of us at, let us shine before others through good works and good character, that people may know the Light of the world. Go! Shine your light upon the world!
Ps Chao Rui