Day 3: A World Without the Gospel Message?
“I am a polyatheist—there are many gods that I don’t believe in.” —Dan Fouts
Isn’t the very definition of hell to be absent of God? Isn’t that what the Gospel message tries to rescue us from—a life away from God? If I reject the Gospel, then I reject God, and if I reject God, then don’t I reject all that He is? Then why do those who reject God still have the capacity for both love and life? If we still have both life and love, then maybe that is a sign that we are not able to ever run from Him until He allows it by giving us the choice to reject Him.
When societies do not have God and they do not have representatives who carry Him in their earthly vessel, aren’t they then largely absent of all that God is—namely love, life, liberty, justice, and wisdom? If this is true, then can’t we actually measure the tangible lack of God in a society by evaluating legislative disregard of life, liberty, justice, and basic human rights?
Perhaps the opposite is true, and the movement of the Gospel can be traced by following societies that legislate life, liberty, justice, and basic human rights. Can these things be observable and measured in a society? I think so. To truly have love, there must truly be freedom. Love in its truest form requires the freedom to reject it, otherwise it is not love. God has the power to reject me and is entitled to condemn me to live without His presence for eternity, but He chose to love me instead. God is not obligated to love me. I can choose to reject His love, because I have been given the freedom to do so. However, His love for me is not dependent on my love for Him. This is His grace, and this grace must be at the heart of the Gospel message.
When societies reject God, they reject life, love, and liberty. So, for instance, we can conclude that North Korea’s rejection of God is a rejection of all the attributes of God in man, which leads to a lack of love and life that can be measured in human rights abuses. If man is not capable of loving God, then his ability to love man dissipates and eventually disappears. This allows us to evaluate human suffering imposed by social choices. If God respects a society’s wishes to reject Him, then is the lack of love, life, liberty, justice, and wisdom found in that society a punishment, or a result of God’s absence?
Saudi Arabia is a super wealthy country, but their people are forced to leave for medical, education, or even basic leisure activities. Egypt is rich with resources, but their people are dying in poverty. Iran has a long, rich history of culture and freedom, but today their people suffer at the hands of cruel dictators. Is it fair? The people in North Korea did not choose to be born in North Korea. The Iraqis did not choose to be born into Islam. They are experiencing a life absent of God in their society, and only the One their leaders have rejected can save them:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:13–15).
America is not freer than Iran because Americans have a better system of government or a more efficient economic engine. Brits are not smarter or harder working than the Yemeni. The difference in those societies is the missionary. And the difference is not the presence of the missionary but what is in the missionary, which has the power to transform. However, the message of the missionary only has power when it is received. Nothing can be forced upon the hearers of the message, because the Gospel message is a message of love, and love gives the freedom of choice.
Jonah’s message to Nineveh only had the power that was equal to the willingness of the people to receive it. North Korea and South Korea are populated by people with the same history, culture, language, and physical features. They live on the very same isolated peninsula, but the two countries could not be more different. North Korea persecutes and kills their own people. They openly declare war on Christians and have destroyed churches and Christian literature. The difference in those societies is not the presence of the missionary but what is in the missionary, which has the power to transform.
North Korea continues to be one of the most abusive countries in the world against believers in Jesus Christ. South Korea is the opposite. Christians have freedom and protection. Regular envoys from South Korea are sent to Israel in a show of support and solidarity with the God of the Jewish people. As a result, science, academics, medicine, business, and even leisure activities flourish in South Korea. In North Korea, these things have withered up and are on life support. The differences between West Germany and East Germany can be used to show the impact of God on society. The difference of systematic persecution of Christians in Russia versus national support for Christians has even been said to be measured in the length of the soup lines.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3)