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  Dr. Joseph Chung - Column
 정희수 칼럼



A senior member told a story of two close friends who used to go to the same church and who became enemies after their church was broken up.

“When I came back from long absence, I wanted to play golf with two of my close friends. We had been members of a church for more than ten years. I called them to play golf. I was told that the church was broken up and that one of them left the church with a group of others who did not like the pastor.
They joined me on a golf club near Montreal. I could not believe my eyes. They did not talk to each other. It took me one hour of persuasion and plea before they started to talk each other. In fact, they had become enemies, because of the church was broken up and because they now belonged to different churches”.

The old man continued:  “I asked why they became enemies. They scratched their head and tried to find reasons. Amazing was that they could not find justifiable reasons.”
Kim remembered having studied the problems of the Korean church in Montreal. Kim came to the following conclusions.

First, human beings, being sinners, conceives loving as reciprocal transaction of care and feeling. Here is the source of hate, jealousy, envy, greed.  Even among the members of the same church, there is always rivalry, mistrust and quarrel. This is normal, because we are human beings. Even the love between parents and children are conditional; even the wife-husband love is with conditions. In other words, human cannot love neighbors without God’s grace.

Second, the principal reason of the breakup of churches is precisely the lack of the unconditional Christian love; this is the Agape love. In the absence of the Agape love, everybody who is not with “us” is enemy. The church is a human organization and run by human beings. So it is normal that it is divided into factions and competing groups and sub-groups. Each group and sub-group has different interests; these interests could be money, prestige, elders, position; ugly desires do dominate over others. It happens that the pastor divides up the congregation to rule. It happens that the pastor form a power group whose function is to protect pastors from criticism for his poor performance as a pastor.

In short, without Agape love, it is quite normal that the church breaks up

Third, the solution is that inter-person and inter-group relation within the church and outside the church should be governed by the Agape love. To provide such love, one has to do the following. Pray hard so that you receive God’s grace so that the Agape love rules over your thinking and actions. Once you get that, you will see everybody as God’s children like you are His child. Then you will see only the good sides of your neighbor. Then you feel the urge to pray for him and help him or her with no conditions.

Fourth, the practice of the Agape love should be led by the pastor and he should teach the congregation how to do it by doing. Many pastors are doing their ministry which is static, non- inspiring even counter-productive so that the faith of the congregation retreats. In their sermons, these pastors may talk about meaningful stories and events, which can otherwise inspire the congregation. But they remain bored and useless, unless the pastor feels Agape love.

Kim has seldom missed church services for 35 years. He was asking himself if his faith has grown and even matured after all these years. Kim’s life of belief had ups and downs; some pastors were inspiring’ some other pastors were bore; some elders were good leaders, some were bad. There were times when Kim felt God close by; there were moments when he felt alone. But in general, his church going was beneficial and made his life worthwhile. He understood the shortcomings of the pastors, elders, deacons and ordinary church members; he pardoned their shortcomings, because he had also shortcomings, may be more than those of others; he pardoned them, because they are human beings.
Kim thanked God for letting him to realize this. Kim thought that his life in Montreal was valuable and worthwhile, simply because God bestowed on him His Grace so that he could see the truth of loving neighbors through loving God.
<to be continued>