Feeling a bit like Jude today…I was going to write a post on hermeneutics and methodology, but was a bit taken by a link shared by a good friend of mine regarding the death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” [gack!!!] Kim Jong-Il.
As one born and raised in America, all to often I take for granted the blessings I have just by living in this country. As messed up as it is, even now, it is far and away a better place to live than many countries where fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are tortured and killed for their faith.
Such is the case in North Korea.
A quick word association would be about all most Americans could produce in a discussion on North Korea.
Kim Jong-Il = Bad!
In many respects, these Christians can better relate to Paul’s intent when writing to the Galatians,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (emphasis added)
And in writing to the Romans,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…
Here in the United States, we simply cannot relate to true persecution from the state, and so, we have over the generations tended to bend and morph the gospel into a personal event as opposed to a kingdom event…a present event over a future event.
Indeed there are very real personal aspects to the gospel, but we miss the point if we fail to see the story in its original setting and incorporate its ramifications into our lives in the present. The early Christians saw the bigger picture of the establishment of the kingdom of God over all – that was the “good news” they embraced and faithfully hoped for in spite of a very real, flourishing and torturous Roman empire.
Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to faithfully stand in opposition to a worldly empire and to be a “concrete demonstration of the intentions of God.” (Perriman, The Future of the People of God pg. 60)
As difficult as it is to write, the illustration can clearly be made for this present generation. Those Christians dying for their faith in North Korea are an example of God’s intentions. Indeed, Perriman pushes the idea even more fully when he writes,
The churches recapitulate in their own existence, in the present time, the story of Jesus’s suffering and vindication as a foreshadowing or guarantee of the future victory over pagan opposition and the public, oikoumene-wide vindication of the family of Abraham – when, in the language of the Son of Man community, those who have suffered with Jesus will be brought with him before the throne of the Ancient of Days to receive ‘dominion and glory and a kingdom’ (Dan. 7:14) (The Future of the People of God pgs. 100-101)
So, as I looked at the videos about the atrocities in North Korea, as sad as it was and continues to be, it assured me of the defeat of this evil empire. For, according to the Apostle Paul, the church stands as a witness to the fact that God has given Jesus the nations as an inheritance (Psalm 2:8) and His kingdom will defeat this present evil age.
Evil simply cannot prevail. The Story will continue in the age to come…
God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:6-10 NIV)