Sermons That Work

God Accuses the False Prophets…, Proper 13 (A) – 1996

August 04, 1996

God accuses the false prophets in the Book of Jeremiah of saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 16: 4). Many people all over the world today are crying for peace, and the nations are seeking peace in the world. However, the peace they are seeking is superficial only to avoid wars. Such peace could not be a true and lasting peace.

Likewise there is no real peace between the two. The possibility of another war is a persisting reality. A mere political compromise could not bring about peace.

Some have predicted that the second Korean war, whether small or big, would be the end of the Korean people and society. They assert that a political reconciliation between the two Koreans is the way to prevent a possible war.

Two possible scenarios for another war to happen have been suggested. One scenario might be played out by the North’s invasion to succeed their socialist revolutionary goals thinking that they would certainly win the war. The other scenario would be the complete breakdown of the North’s economic and social infrastructure.

These articles suggest that the avoidance of war between the two Koreas would be achieved by establishing political peace between the two. In order to move beyond the Cold War period, the South Koreas relationship with the US and with Japan are thought to be crucial. Any cooperation from China and Russia is also thought to be critical. All these opinions put forth political solutions to avoid a war between the Koreas. But, this would not bring about the ultimate peace. This could not guarantee the lasting unification of the two Koreas.

In order to help restore trust and achieve unification between the North and the South, still others suggest an economic trade between the two Koreas. This would lead to the increased living standards of the North Koreans. The idea is that with higher living standards, the North might be more willing to enter into negotiations with the South. This also could not ensure true peace or lasting unification.

The desire for peace and unification of the Koreas runs deep among all Koreans. However, North Korea would mostly not abandon its nuclear arms development projects. Could there truly be peace and unification on the Korean peninsula? If there is a way for peace and unification, what would be the way the two Koreas should take?

At his trial, Jesus heard two contradictory sentences — People shouting, “Crucify, him.”(Luke 23:21 – 22) and Pontius Pilate claiming, “I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death” (Luke 23:21 – 22). What was Jesus’ reply in the end? “Father, forgive them,” said Jesus (Luke 23: 34).

Koreans of the divided Koreas due to the Korean war must forgive each other. This is the sure way to bring about true and lasting peace and unification. Korean must all together ask for God’s forgiveness. Koreans in the divided Koreans under two different political systems have been hearing two different claims to truth. When the South says yea, the North would say nay, and vice versa. These two voices must be united in asking for God’s reconciliation.

For the past 46 years both Koreas have lived out their recent history blaming and criticizing each other. However, they now must repent and realize their own short-comings. For 46 years 60, 000 families have been dispersed and have lost contact with each other. How long will the South and the North continue to blame each other? They must forgive each other. Without forgiveness first, there could not be reconciliation. Without forgiveness, compromise and mutual trust, it would be difficult even to begin any form of North-South relations.

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 14: 22-33), Jesus performs the miracle of walking on water. This passage is not simply to account for the fact that Jesus could walk on water. But rather we need to look for deeper meanings of the account.

First, the tempest which the disciples faced could not be overcome by human power. The necessities of life which we take for granted ultimately cannot be attained by human abilities alone. This passage teaches us the illusory power of human will.

Second, seeing Jesus walking over on water, Peter probably thought that he no longer needed the boat. If we think of Jesus as a mere provider of our physical and material needs, and of all the luxuries in life for us to show off, then we make the same mistake by which Peter fell in the water. As Paul teaches us that “if you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap the eternal life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8), Jesus went on the boat, the storm ceased, and they arrived safely at their destination. When we have truly given ourselves over to Christ, we can overcome the tempestuous storms of this world. This is not to say that we are given the ability to walk on water. But this is to say that despite the reality of the tempestuous storms in life in this world, we can glimpse the kingdom of God here and now, when we fix our gaze upon the Lord Jesus and surrender ourselves to Him.

The South Korean Christian must lead the way to repentance and reconciliation with God for others to follow including the North Koreans. Without God’s grace, peace and unification on the Korean peninsula are not possible.

Jesus says, “So, my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother of sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). It is imperative that we forgive one another. If we want God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive our brothers and sisters. “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

One of the things that should take place between the North and the South Koreans is to allow the dispersed and estranged family members to visit each other. Many North Koreans have relatives in the US or Japan, whom they should be allowed to visit. The South Koreans with relatives in the North should be allowed to visit their relatives. To be able to visit and be united with one’s own parents and siblings is not a privilege, but a basic right.

There are always two opposing voices in human history — the voice of thesis and that of antithesis. We need to hear the voice of synthesis that is rooted in the truth of Christ Jesus. Such voice is the truth of Christian reconciliation founded upon the selfless love of society needs those who follow what seems to be the voice of majority and those who do not follow that voice. When the composition and activities of all its members are harmoniously balanced, the obstacles can be overcome and a sound development can be expected in a society. Making allowance for the free expression of opposite opinions and the equitable policy decisions is the way of democracy. This means an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness of one another.

Autocracy oppresses and abolishes the opinions and activities of those who disagree with its policy. Such a society is not built upon the ideals of acceptance and forgiveness. Autocratic systems cannot see the lasting and continuous development of the society. Human freedom of thoughts and opinions cannot be oppressed and abolished. Such a system could not last long.

Seeking God’s forgiveness and reconciliation means forgiving each other and accepting those who differ from us. It is up to all Koreans with the leadership of the Christians in the South to bring about the true and lasting peace and unification on the Korean peninsula. When the process to peace and unification of the two Koreas is rooted in the Christian reconciliation of Christ’s own selfless love, it has every possibility of success and of being the true image of the kingdom of God here on earth.

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Christopher Sikkema


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