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  Dr. Joseph Chung - Column
 정희수 칼럼



“Bravo Mr. elder! I think the same. Let me see, I will define who neighbors are.  According to the Good Book, our neighbors are the humanity.  My family, my fellow congregation members, Koreans, Canadians and all other people in the world are created by God; they are all neighbors. Since they are created by God, they deserve our love”, insisted Kim.

“But look at our church. I have never heard our pastor praying for the people outside our church; this pastor thinks as if the Christian realm is limited to our church; for him, there is no other world apart from our church. Under such pastor, how can one expect to learn how to love neighbors”, a man supported the view of Kim.

“I like to cut in. I know a university professor who experienced loving neighbors. While the professor studies the Bible and theology, he wanted to test if he could love neighbors. One afternoon, he sat on the sidewalk of the main street on Quebec City. He watched hundreds of peoples passing by. There were whites, blacks, yellow, brown; there were fat men and thin men; there were beautiful ladies and less beautiful ladies; there were children and adults, there were well dressed people and poorly dressed ones, there were intelligent looking people and less intelligent looking ones; there were people looking happy and sad looking ones.

He watched these people for three hours and he asked himself if he could love them all. He said to himself “Yes!”. In the eyes of the professor, they are all human beings; they all suffer from fear, insecurity; they are sick sometimes; they all have moments of glory and joy; they all go through moments of despair. They are all vulnerable; they are all sinners; they are all God’s children. They are all brethren. The professor felt the urge to go them and kiss them, and tell them “I love you all!”,  a lady told the story about the professor

“That is it! The experience of the professor is, to me, Christian’s love of neighbor. I think that the professor’s experience reveals the most important principle of loving neighbors. It is the principle of the universality of human nature. All human beings as children of God and therefore everybody has something good in him or her; at the same time everybody is sinner; everybody has some defects. This means the love of neighbors begins when we accept the very fact that all human beings have good side and bad side”, Kim remembered saying this himself.

The discussion at the district service (kuyok service) moved on to the way of loving neighbors.

“Fine, but how should we love neighbors?”, one university co-ed asked.

“Any volunteer?”, a young man challenged smiling.

“I agree that we should accept everybody as he or she is. But is it possible? Are we not all jealous of others for their wealth, power, fame, beauty? There is a Latin expression saying that “ human being can become righteous, but remain sinful”. We are jealous of other’s glory, power, wealth and fame, because we are human beings. Therefore, the love of neighbor cannot be materialized without love of God. You see, to accept others, one has to be humble; one can become humble through God’s grace. In other words, before you love your neighbors, you must pray to God so that you become humble, accept other as they are and try to do something for their wellbeing”, preached an elder.

In a way, Kim thought that this elder’s remark was the right conclusion of the issue. Kim thought that for some reasons, the Korean congregation in general and those in Montreal in particular seemed to limit the boundary of neighborhood to the particular congregation, To  put it in a more drastic way, for the church of 40 members, humanity consists of  only 40 members. Nobody outside the church is neighbor.

There was in Montreal a Sunday group gathering where several interested people meet after the Sunday Service. This was perhaps the only multi-church gathering. For those who came to the gatherings had a vision of neighbor- loving wider than that of most of Koreans in Montreal. One day, the discussion was about the end of friendship among Koreans when the churches were split for some reasons which had nothing to do with faith.
<to be continued>