Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In what sense is the HDB flat like the kingdom of God?

As I was preparing for Bible study on the gospel of Mark in my internship church, I tried to juxtapose with the lessons I learned in my class on Aristotle. I saw grounds for cross-fertilization in explaining  the kingdom of God. This article is a crystallization of my thought process as I seek to compare the similarities between HDB flat and the kingdom of God. I hope to use a contemporary setting familiar to all of us so that we could look afresh on what the kingdom of God is like (or unlike).

Preface: When I say "the kingdom of God is like"…. I am drawing an analogy. Analogy has its limitations and is not to be taken as "the kingdom of God is equal to…" The following analogies assume that you are still paying for HDB loan, and may not be applicable if you are already debt-free.

1. When we purchase our HDB flat or any apartment, we have to make a down payment of 10% to 20% before the flat is potentially ours. So, when we work, our CPF goes towards our monthly installment. Before we finish our installment, the flat is potentially ours as it can be re-possessed by the bank if we default on our monthly installment and we could not re-negotiate on the loan package. The kingdom of God is like our HDB flat in the sense that Jesus Christ has made a down payment for us by His death and resurrection. The kingdom of God is only fully here when Jesus Christ returns. So, from now till his return, we work to actualize the kingdom of God in our midst. However, the point of departure is that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to actualize the kingdom of God.

2. Christ's return is just like the end of our installment. When Jesus Christ returns, we would see the full actualization of God's kingdom, just like at the end of our monthly installment, our HDB flat is fully ours. The difference is that you can finish your installment in your lifetime, but we do not know when Jesus Christ will return.

3. The kingdom of God embodies God's presence just like our flat embodies our presence. The way we renovate the house, the way we place our furniture, and how we use the space in our house are an extension of ourselves in space. The kingdom of God manifests God's presence. The whole of God's creation is a theatre of God's glory. God puts us in His creation so that we could work hand-in-hand with Him to manifest His glory. It is just like how we would like to work hand-in-hand with our family members to make our HDB flat habitable, such that we may even take pride in our house. Doesn't that speak to the way we should govern the earth? Shouldn't we recycle our used materials so that our non-renewable resources can last longer? Shouldn't we invest in more renewable energies and build sustainable community and economies so that God may take pride by entrusting His creation to our care?

4. Dick Lee once sang that Singapore has a trinity: the father, the son, and the holy Goh. Though it is a crude joke, it does illustrate the intimacy of the three figures. I see another concept of trinity in our immediate environment. We live in three spheres during our waking hours: within our family, within our company or institution, and within our church. Though only the first can be tied to HDB flat, the fact that we exist in a community illustrates that we need the nourishment of different (or three-tiered) communities to sustain us. Without these different forms of nourishment, we would not be able to last long in our life, and there goes our HDB flat. This is just like the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit empowers us which is only possible due to Jesus Christ's down payment for us, and by faith in Him, we are reconciled back to God, and to work for the actualization of the kingdom of God.

5. Where is the kingdom of God? It is not here nor there, it is within us (Luke 17:21). It is only when the kingdom of God is within us that we can finally see that we are already living within the kingdom of God. We are called to actualize it by seeking God's kingdom actively (i.e. we are to seek His will). It is just like when we live in our HDB flat, we can no longer say "where is it?". It is here, but not yet.

I just finished writing this article within the last one hour, and didn't have time to examine it critically. Please give me feedback, if any. Thanks.

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