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정희수 칼럼

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  Dr. Joseph Chung - Column
 정희수 칼럼



To know God, Kim read the Bible as often as he could. Even in his dépanneur, whenever there was idle moment, he read the Bible. He read so much that he remembers many of the stories and events in the Bible.

So he thought he knew God, but he did not. He realized that knowing God is much more than knowing the people and stories in the Bible. Kim hoped that the church would help him. So he attended the morning prayers, Wednesday services and Sunday services.

He listened carefully the representative prayers, collective prayers, loud prayers, silent prayers and the minister’s sermons. He hoped that these prayers would make him feel God in him and around him. When he listened to the choir, he hoped to feel the soft touch of God, in vain. Kim was wondering why the church could not provide all these.

Was it his fault? Was it due to incompetence of the pastor? Was it attributable to elders? Was it to blame fellow congregation? 
Kim remembered a discussion about faith in the church after the Sunday prayer service.

Kim confessed his doubt about his faith to one of the church elders.

“Mr. Elder, I know the Bible, but I do not feel it; I like to feel God’s presence in me and in my life. What is wrong with me”, humbly asked Kim.

“Oh! Yah! Me too! I have the same problem!”, confessed the elder.

“Whose fault is it?”, asked Kim again.

“I do not know, but I guess that the pastor should take a good part of the blame?”, commented the elder.

“The pastors seem to work very hard. What is wrong with their sermon”, asked a deacon sitting beside Kim.

“Well, I think the problem is that they do not themselves believe in God’s presence in them”, said a lady of certain age.

“You see, the pastor’s job is to transmit the word of God with humble attitude. He may utter words in the Bible, but the words are not his; it is His. The pastor should feel God, try to understand God’s intention, imagine the reality God refers to in the words of the Bible”, said the same lady with passion.

“Yes, I agree with the lady. The grave problem is that the pastor pretends that the truth and the wisdom which he tries to convey are his own”, said another deacon as if he were relieved to hear what he had always felt.
Kim remembered these conversations in the past. But Kim wondered how about the responsibility of church leaders especially the elders or the people of similar positions.

Kim once had a passionate discussion with ordinary church members. This discussion took place in Mr. Cho’s residence. It was one of the monthly gatherings of “district service”. In most churches in Montreal, the congregation is divided into a group of districts (or age group) and monthly gatherings take place. It is customary that the host family provide something to eat and drink. For Koreans, eating together is almost a ritual.

Get together and eating together is an important part of collective life for Koreans and other Asians. It is a legacy of millennium old collectivism resulting from Daoism and Confucianism which stress the supremacy of collective entity such as family, same-region people or same-school people over individuality. The group cohesion is important for Koreans; the individuality is not highly valued.

The group has its own hidden code of behavior; any deviation from such cod is frown upon and social pressure is applied. Eating together is therefore a ritual and the function of cementing the group cohesion and an identity.

All agreed that an elder should be a person who could be a role model both in personal life and church life. He should not drink wine; he should be exemplary father and husband. Of course it is rare to see this kind of perfect person. But, an elder should be someone who at least tries to be this kind of person.
<to be continued>