The people of North Korea don’t need a nuclear bomb. They need radical missionaries on their shores. They need loving prophets in the news. And they need the love of Christ, revealed through the bold actions of kingdom people.
How are we still confused about this?
In Luke 9, two of Jesus’ disciples asked for fire and fury to destroy a town in Samaria.
He turned and rebuked them.
The only fire we should be asking for is the fire of the Holy Ghost. The loving flame of God, which empowers us to declare (as Peter declared after being empowered by the flame) “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off.” (Acts 2:39)
And ALL who are far off.
More than ever we need to raise our voice. Not to demand violent reactions and unnecessary wars (that is obviously not working.) It is time for Christians to take the Christ approach.
Yes, in the current temptation to choose violence over peace… we must ask, “what if?”
What if we respond to threat at home with mercy abroad?
What if we stood with the broken, hurting people of North Korea as we stand with the broken, hurting people of the Western World?
What if we invested all the money in politics and war, and “invaded” each of the “enemy” nations with shelters and schools, with clean water and the love of God?
I believe in answering these “what if’s?” with the New Testament strategy:
- “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” – Jesus
- “Be not overcome by evil; overcome evil with good.” – Paul
- “Human wrath does not work God’s justice.” – James
We could go on and on.
You see, the only way to defeat any other kind of radical extremism is to love radically. And the Gospel (our manifesto and constitution) is full of this kind of radical love.
The New Testament was written in a time when believers were being persecuted and martyred; where their surroundings were chaotic and their lives in danger… Every. Single. Day.
They too had valid reasons to hate and retaliate.
These first century Christians were losing their homes, their children, their peace. They were surrounded by religious terrorists who murder them, and political terrorists who persecuted them.
However, they went in the opposite direction. They resisted the temptation to use Satan’s tools. They demonstrated forgiveness and compassion, even when hatred and war would have been an appropriate response.
They modeled after Jesus. Not after Rome.
As I wrote in How Should Christians Respond To ISIS?, “Saul of Tarsus was a terrorist. The writer of more than 40% of the New Testament used to be a kind of Al-Qaeda. An ISIS of sorts. The first Christian martyrdom happened with his involvement. The victim was Stephen, a young man whose only crime was preaching Jesus. His “just” reward was lawful murder (stuck inside a hole, while rocks disfigured his head). And when Stephen was breathing his last, he asked God to forgive the ones who were killing him when he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts. 7:60)
The Father heard that prayer, and answered it, by revealing himself to Saul… who is now and forever the Apostle Paul.
If somehow this article sounds ridiculous to you… well, welcome to my world! Whenever reports of war and attacks invade the news, I think of my own family and all I want is to protect them at all cost.
From Kim Jong-un, radical Islamists and every other threat.
Yet the way of the cross is an absolute contradiction to human nature (it’s part of our new nature in the Son).
Because Jesus does not kill His enemies.
Jesus dies for them.
And His body on a cross is God’s love letter to them.
So I ask again, what would North Korea look like if we Christians took Christ literally?
As Brian Zahnd recently said while discussing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “Militarists can concoct arguments to rationalize killing 200,000 civilians with two bombs… But Jesus is what God has to say. Biblicists can point to God-sanctioned killing in the Old Testament… But Jesus is what God has to say.
And what does Jesus say? He says this:
Love your enemies!
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Pray for those who hurt you.
Love your enemies!
Do good to them.
Then your reward from heaven will be very great.
You will be acting like children of the Most High.
For he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
The words are from Luke 6 6:27-28; 35-36 (and they are in red, so you know for sure that it was Jesus saying it). He said it about the cruel Roman Empire of his time, as much as he’s saying it about the evil of ours.
As unnatural as that may feel… this is our new nature in Resurrection.
This is why the Holy Fire comes upon us! To be bold with Pentecost faith. To be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (aka North Korea).
Who’s ready to burn?
“How ironic is it to see a bumper sticker that says ‘Jesus is the answer’ next to a bumper sticker supporting war, as if to says ‘Jesus is the answer – but not in the real world.”
~ Shane Claiborne,