This week I was listening to an interview of Park Yeonmi. She escaped from North Korea at 13 with her mother in 2007. Her story is told in her autobiography In order to Live. I've often wondered why people in places like North Korea do not rise up and take a stand and fight for their freedom. I learned from Yeonmi that a huge reason they don't is because they don't know they're in bondage. They do not know they have no freedom. These concepts have been removed from North Korea, even words that could lead people to that kind of thinking have been removed from their vocabulary.
She makes an amazing statement, "If you think you are in bondage, that proves you are not really in bondage. If you think you are oppressed, you aren’t really oppressed."
As I was listening, I realized the Kims in Korea have done the same thing that the devil does to many people. They are in bondage and don't even realize it. They've never experienced freedom and they don't even have a proper understanding of what freedom, love, or forgiveness is.
All Yeonmi knew was lack, hunger, want, death, fear, etc. This is what our enemy the devil does. Jesus said, talking about the devil in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;" There are so many people in this world who only know a life that has been stolen, killed, and destroyed.
Jesus left us with words. Words that He himself said. Words that are promises to us for today, and for the future. Promises that Jesus never changes. (Hebrews 13:8) That in contrast to the theif, Jesus came so that we could have life, and a super-abundant life! John 10:10
Jesus told us to go and make disciples from every people group and to teach them to follow everything He said to do.
These words are important. We have the authority to use them. Jesus has given us that authority and power!.
When we use His words in faith, and we believe that His words are true and powerful, it connects that power and authority and affects this physical world, even though these words are a spiritual power! When we say the same thing God’s word says, like speaking God’s promise for our life, we connect to that power and authority.
In Luke 9 Jesus called the twelve and gave them power and authority over demons and diseases, and sent them out to preach about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And they returned excited! Because of the power in the name of Jesus.
That power is still there today. When we sing songs about Jesus, we are speaking what God’s word says about him. We are making a declaration that we really need do believe. What is the point of singing and speaking things that we don’t believe in. If we are saying things we don’t believe in, they aren’t going to have the effect we are looking for in our life.
It takes work. It takes some effort for us to follow Jesus. He gives us forgiveness and new life out of His love for us, at no cost. And we make a mistake thinking that to achieve everything we want it is not supposed to have any effort.
When I read the new testament, I read about people who put a lot of effort into the Kingdom of God. They put a lot of effort into telling people about Jesus, preaching the Gospel for the Kingdom. They loved it. They enjoyed it, but that is because they loved Jesus and they were helping people. But make no mistake, it was a lot of effort.
Dont confuse effort with ‘works.’ Effort is the hard work we put in to improve something, such as learning an instrument, learning to follow the voice of our Good Shepherd, or to seek out that one lost sheep for him. That is effort.
What we call works is when we are just doing things to try to impress Him, or to try to get recognition for what we are doing, or trying to earn something God has already given us.
So lets put some renewed effort into the work Jesus left for us to do. Let’s stand against the darkness in the world. We do that not by proving we are right about issues, or fighting about politics, but we do that by showing people Jesus.
In Yeonmi’s journey, the most heartbreaking part for me, was when she met some missionaries. And after working to prove her faith, they found out about her past as a sex slave and working in chat rooms. The Christians told her that she was soo dirty from her past that she could never be cleaned. And she said that hurt her deeply.
It's so backwards and wrong. She was no more dirty than those missionaries themselves. Maybe even less dirty than they were. Yet she stayed with them, because even though they hurt her deeply, she had never met anyone in the world who actually cared about people before, who cared about humanity.
So, I end with this... what stories are the people who meet you going to tell about the Christians they know?
We can be the people God created us to be. We can do the good things that He planned a long time ago for each one of us. We can be the light in the darkness. We can bring hope and freedom to those in need.