Starting off the new academic year of 2019/2020, Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH) held Pelita Harapan Conference 2019 on 31 August 2019, bringing up the theme Grace Upon Grace that is inspired from John 1:16. This theme also helped commemorate UPH’s 25th Dies Natalis in serving as a Christian institute that is centered in Christ.
The one-day conference was led by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology of Reformed Theological Seminary, U.S.A., and there were over 3,000 participants comprised of professors, staff, UPH students, units under the Yayasan Pendidikan Pelita Harapan (YPPH), and invitees from communities inside and outside the nation.
The main part of Dr. Ferguson’s message in this conference is how Christian academics must be brave in showing their uniqueness and their differences in the center of a sinful world. Dr. Ferguson invited the audience to examine the book of 1 Peter, which records the faith journey of Peter as a believer who is constantly hit by fear and doubt in God’s grace for His people. Peter’s struggles are often the struggles of believers in this age, and this is also the struggles faced by Christian institutes around the world.
In the first session, Dr. Ferguson explained that as the people of God, we are created to be different from the world. Because of this, we will face suffering, but instead of being sad, we must be joyful because we are taken from the world and chosen to be His people, the Great King’s.
The audience was then invited to see their role in a sinful world. As believers different from the rest of the world, we have a unique role because our roles cannot be played by people of the world. Dr. Ferguson explained that Christians must always obey the government authorities that are responsible for them.
Dr. Ferguson explained, “Christians do not react anarchically or disruptively when there are disagreeable things because we live to please God but to please men, and God wants us to obey the authorities.” Moreover, by not opposing the government, Christian institutes will have a good relationship with government authorities and contribute more to the nation.
This principle is more real, as shown through relationships in Christian families. Referring to 1 Peter 3, Dr. Ferguson stresses how a wife must submit to her husband, and how a husband must love his wife. When pushed with love, an obedient and honorable wife will push her husband to be walking in the right path in leading the family. If a husband and a wife walk in the right path, their children will follow the right path, too. The core relationship created by God, which is shown in families, is the first step in teaching each member of the family to contribute to the community. If the foundation is built at the right home and is subject to God’s authority, the contribution to the people will be based on the same principle. This is the start contributions by Christians amid the community, people, nation, and the world.
In the last session, Dr. Ferguson continues to stress how Christians will suffer in this world. The mission God gave us cannot be carried out in a society that accepts us no matter who we are; As creations separate from the world, we must be ready to be rejected, perceived as weird or thought as unimportant by the world. One of the things that enable us to keep moving forward is His grace for us, grace upon grace that is poured out for us. It is only by grace that we can be the salt and light of the world, and it is only by His grace that UPH can be a 25-years-old institution based in Christian faith, producing graduates who have and is becoming the salt and light for the people of Indonesia and the world.