Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim was falsely accused and arrested for “crimes against the state” by one of the most repressive regimes today, that of North Korea. He was sentenced to what amounted to a life sentence of hard labour and solitary confinement.
Upon his miraculous release after serving two and a half years of his sentence, he returned to Canada and was interviewed on CBC by Rosemary Barton. He told her how he was forced to dig holes in the frozen ground in the winter to make an orchard. He spoke of being under constant surveillance 24 hours a day with 2 guards who were changed every 2 hours, and how he was kept from speaking to his family or his church during this whole time of imprisonment.
In the interview Pastor Lim was asked, “How do you feel about North Korea now? Are you angry?” Lim’s response was, “No, never. I thanked North Korea. I forgive them and I love them.”
He went on to say, “And I believe this was a discipline from God as I learned so much through this experience.”
How did this experience change him, the interviewer wanted to know. Pastor Kim’s response, “I served the church. However, through this experience, I realized how I’m the sinner in front of God, and through his experience I will glorify God and serve God more sincerely.”
What a contrast to what is commonly and glibly passed off as “Christian” in our country! People claim they were ‘hurt’ and ‘offended’. Some offence from years past has been harboured in their hearts and the hatred and bitterness only grows. They want justice, when what we really need is mercy. They have not learned that to be a Christian – a follower of the Lord Jesus – means to obey Him and to be more and more like Him.
Jesus told His followers, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: (Matthew 5:43-45)
Do you see what it means to be a follower of Christ? It means to be ready to forgive insults and injuries, and never forgetting that, as Pastor Lim says, “we are the sinners before God”, and have offended Him ten thousand times more than anyone has ever offended us!
This characteristic of being a Christian is so important that John says that if we do not possess it, then quite simply we cannot have any confidence whatsoever of being a Christian at all!
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:14-15)
Pastor Lim is exhibiting what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He sees his great trial as a gift from God that was used to make Him more like His Saviour. That is true Christianity in action. And yes, while we should hate the evil that resides in the hearts of ALL mankind; ourselves included – we must yet remember that it was while we were yet sinners (rebels and haters of God), that Christ died for us.
May God so work in the hearts of His people that we may show forth this kind of love, and thus fulfill the words of our Lord, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. (John 13:35)
(Note: This article first published September 23, 2017)