What is the cross? And how can I relate to my North Korean brothers and sisters who love Jesus to the death? Two parts of the question that travels with me day after day since I met this land. I can never be the same having been challenged by their faith. I truly live in a land of comfort and pleasure. Should I concentrate on being uncomfortable? Is that the cross? Why not a Daniel fast? I tried that for a week not long ago. Vegetables and water. Seemed feasible. I meant to go for two weeks, though. After a few days i realized what I was in for. And I headed for familiar land. Better to fast altogether than to keep eating like that.
"But in North Korea," the Voice comes...
I read in a northwest Alabama newspaper online about the 21st century Underground Railroad in NK. The author "met groups of people who live every moment with sickening fear," not knowing when the sound of footsteps outside the door might mean the 18moa Chinese police are there to force them back to North Korea and misery. He speaks of "wretched" people who come from a "national torture chamber."
How can I relate? My wife purchased a tour package out West so I could get back up in the air, and eventually visit or even work in Chosun. Because of an unfortunate flying incident, I have been "sickened with fear" at the thought of flight and possible claustrophobia. I struggled for weeks with the thought of going even on this pleasure trip, and at the last minute called it off. Such a hero.
But in North Korea believers can't "call it off." It's not about pleasure packages and making up one's mind what one will do. It's the cross, the cross, the cross...
I am truly the wretched one, flinching from imaginary pain while they suffer the real thing.
What is the cross? Denying myself more and laying my life down for my wife, my children, my church, my work-place? Or presenting myself before a dictator and others of Christ's enemies and saying "Here I am, do with me what you will, but I will preach Christ until I die." Or both? Or more?
There are some no-doubt statements about which all of us need to meditate, I think:
"If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him." That means if we don't, we won't.
"All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Those who don't won't.
"Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it." And vice versa.
And then there's Paul's classic description of enemies of the cross of Christ: those who do not mind heavenly things, and whose god is their belly.
There is only one church. It is the suffering church. Let us all apply for membership, being willing to die for our own plans effective immediately.