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Friday, November 25, 2011

A North Korean's Perspective on Christians

Me: (after finding out the North Korean goes to church) Are you Christian?
North Korean: Yes, but that doesn't seem to mean much anymore.
Me: What do you mean?
NK: Well, almost every person I meet calls them self Christian, but they don't seem any different from anyone else. They go to church to meet a spouse, and then when they find their spouse, they say "amen" and stop going. I'd be surprised if even half the people who call themselves Christian actually are. It's probably more like 10%.

I don't know about you, but when I heard this, I was rocked. How sad a reality it is that when an outsider sees the Christian population, they can tell whether someone is authentic or not. I think that what we need to do as Christians is to examine ourselves to make sure we are of the faith. That means, we should check ourselves to make sure we truly trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ - to believe that Christ came down to earth to die for our sins so that we would no longer be separated from God. If we believe this, our lives will look radically different than the person that doesn't believe this.

Jesus said, Matthew5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." In these verses, there is both an automatic result and a passive action that is taken by those who believe Jesus as their savior. The first byproduct is that Jesus will shine through you if you believe in Him whether you do anything or not. There is a quality about accepting the Gospel that prevents anything from hiding the relationship that we have with God. If we believe, we cannot hide our faith because it defines us. The second thing is a mandate: that we reveal our standing before God to others. If we have Jesus, we want to share Him because He helps us see that being loved by Him is better than life itself. As someone would share the best news (ie. getting into the college of their choice, getting their dream job, or meeting their soul mate), people who know Jesus cannot contain the fact that they have Him in their lives.

My new friend pointed out in her statements that there is a clear disparity between what people think Christianity is and what it actually is. For her, to be able to embrace Christianity, she had to defect from North Korea in fear, go through China, climb mountains at night, and walk through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand with almost no money, and the thought that it would be better to commit suicide than be taken back. Both her parents died. Her sister and her grandmother were captured and for almost 10 years, she has had no contact with them. The thought of believing in an invisible God was utter ridiculousness to her until recently, when she tried to pray to God and found that God answered her prayers. For her, faith only makes sense if a person is all in, not wishy washy.

As I confront the Gospel, I find that the life and death of Jesus calls for a full surrender to trust Him with everything - including that He knows better than we do about what we need and how we should live our lives. As I contemplate my new friend's story, I must consider that for most people belief is a luxury, and faith, a commodity that can determine life or death. I am forced to wonder what Christians would look like under persecution - including the punishment of death. I wonder what my faith would look like under persecution. It is recorded that throughout history, Christianity has grown under times of persecution; I am sure that as people have clung to the Cross, there were others who completely denounced it as well.

I don't know much about Paul Washer, but it seems like as he preaches, his central message is for people to truly examine themselves to make sure that there is a congruence between what we believe and our actions. This sermon jam might be something we should actually consider.

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