One key highlight in the Sunday School calendar is Children’s Day celebration. This year is no exception. The theme of this year’s Children’s Day celebration is ”The Jungle King”. A hilarious skit by the young adults kickstarted the programme on 9 October.
Acting as different animals, the young adults vied for the title of the Jungle King. We had the giraffe parading its height, the gorilla beating its muscular chest to show off its strength, the lion with its impressive mane roaring, the monkey gorging bananas, the elephant throwing its weight around with his spraying spree and the slithering snake eating a fat juicy chicken.
The jungle is a picture of the world we live in. In real life, the world is a dangerous place. Like animals, we fight in the jungle for survival. Someone once said that in a dog eat dog world, it is always time to eat, otherwise you risk being eaten by others! We must always be one step ahead of others, we are told time and again. In such a jungle, there is no room for forgiveness, no room for mercy, no room for grace. Winning is everything. In such a jungle, we get all we can, can all we get, and sit on the can. What this means is we get everything we are able to get, keep them away and guard our gains so no one else can have a share in it. This picture of the world as a jungle is narrow. It sees the world as a zero-sum game. My gain is your loss and similarly your gain is my loss.
Is that how Christians should live under God’s hand? Our study on the distinctives of the Christian life tells us otherwise. Christians are people who are formed by God, reformed by Him and transformed for His glory. He chose us before the creation of the world to be His Holy people. The mystery of His choosing is just that – a mystery. We can never know why God chose us and not someone else. But we do know that God eagerly desires all men to be saved and somehow in His mysterious ways, some are chosen and some are not. If we believe in our hearts that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, we can be assured that we are His chosen ones (John 1:12). Having been chosen by Him, He reformed our jungle ways so we no longer think and live like animals in the jungle (Gal 2:20). I am reminded of a Daily Bread reading on 9 Oct on the names of the first disciples of Jesus. We have Matthew who was a hated tax collector and Simon the Zealot (a fanatical Jewish religious fundamentalist) counted among Jesus’ first disciples. By all accounts, they were poles apart in their orientation. We would have imagined they would have fought, quarrelled with and treated each other as enemies. Yet it is instructive to note that nothing was written in the Bible about them quibbling over their differences. Their faith in God must have reformed their thinking. Not only that, Jesus in their hearts transformed their lives. We read of simple fishermen living out their faith courageously in the face of danger. John the apostle turned from a son of thunder to the great apostle of love. His writings, especially the first chapter of John, are mind blowing. The great eternal God entered human history through Jesus, took on the constraints of time and space, pitched His tent among fallible humans to show His great love for us and now invites us to return to Him as His chosen ones.
Who is this jungle king? He is unlike the proud giraffe who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the animals. He is unlike the gorilla who seeks dominion through his brute strength. He is unlike the impressive lion who roaringly subdues others. He is unlike the monkey who is greedy for self satisfaction. He is unlike the elephant who throws his weight around. He is unlike the snake who acts deceitfully. One of the most touching and shocking images of Jesus to me is found in Psalm 22:6. David was in extreme suffering and he cried out to God in this psalm. The description he used here for himself typologically points to the future Messiah who would similarly undergo suffering. This is what Psalm 22:6 says, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” A worm! Who would have imagined the Jungle King, the God of the universe, could be described as a worm? A worm is a nobody in the jungle. Anyone and anything can trample and kill it. You would probably know how vulnerable a worm is if you have stepped on one before. Yet Jesus, when He entered human history, made Himself vulnerable. He was trampled on the cross by the full weight of man’s sins and crushed with a willing helplessness to death. This is the Jungle King we worship. And I am glad I have Him as my King!