In 1953 North and South Korea signed an armistice. That ceasefire still stands today; they never signed a peace treaty. In other words, they agreed to stop killing each other, but the issues remain unresolved. Kim Il-Sung and the North Koreans wanted to unite the nation under communism while the South Koreans resisted. In my World Cultures class, my students read about how Korea went from the united golden age of the Silla dynasty to today, where guards face each other 24/7 on the DMZ.
How does that happen? How do we move so far apart from the people closest to us that we have to carry loaded weapons around just to protect ourselves?
Hear this from James 4 (ESV)
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Our textbook says that “fear and suspicion” keep North and South Korea from uniting. It also says they hope to be one country one day. It seems there is a tension more powerful than the electric barbed wire that physically divides. However, the longer they remain separated, the harder reunification will be. But what is the underlying difference? The Iron Curtain has come down, but what about the fence?
“You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?”
In our relationships, what will it take for us to put our guns down, to seek reconciliation, to humble ourselves? Why is it so hard to admit we are wrong, say we are sorry, and forgive? Sometimes it is the silence that keeps us from understanding each other. Often what remains unsaid is louder than what is said.
North Korea, for all of its craziness, isn’t so different from us. We want to believe that we can be self-sufficient, isolated, and ok on our own. We don’t want to recognize our need for something beyond ourselves. Somehow the slightest movement toward each other is enough to see that God is already there, already working toward redemption. Here’s the hopeful part…
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”