Kim Hyun-hui was born in North Korea. Under orders from her country’s then leader, Kim Il-sung, she was one of two young agents who successfully blew up a South Korean passenger jet in 1987, killing all 115 people on board. She was later captured, taken to South Korea, sentenced to death, then granted a pardon by South Korean president Roe Tae-Woo. Today, Kim is a Christian who has received the forgiveness of many of the families of her victims. She regrets her past actions and wonders openly, “Why did I have to be born in North Korea?”
In an episode of the popular British detective series ‘Morse’ entitled Inspector Morse – Promised Land, the inspector muses on Pascal’s Wager (found in that writer’s famous work Pensées). Morse’s colleague, Sergeant Lewis, asks: “What do you think about God and that? Do you think there’s a God?” In his reply, Morse is intensely human: “I think there are times when I wish to God there was one. A just God. A God dispensing justice. I’d like to believe in that.” We must be careful what we wish for!
In his Foundation series, Isaac Asimov introduces the idea of a mentalic – a person with unusual psychic abilities. In Forward the Foundation (Foundation Novels), he describes how mentalics discover their peers in society: “Stettin, I believe you said that on certain occasions you’ve ‘felt’ another mind like yours but haven’t been able to identify it.” “Yes,” answered Palver, “I’ve had flashes, but each time I was in a crowd. And, in my twenty-four years, I can remember feeling such a flash just four or five times.” “But Stettin,” said Seldon, his voice low with intensity, “each flash was, potentially, the mind of another person like you and Wanda – another mentalic…We must find other mentalics.” As mentalics studied their world, they realized they were different from most of those around them. Certain events and chance encounters triggered that awareness, and by meeting and working in concert with fellow mentalics, they had the potential to change the world.
The Christian faith is all about a person: Jesus Christ. Faith is not an academic exercise; it’s a loving relationship with that person. At the very center of space and time, God himself inhabited a human body and walked this earth. It’s how we know what God is like, and he reveals to us what we could never have imagined: from weakness comes strength; from failure comes victory; from rejection comes acceptance; from service comes lordship; from humiliation comes glory; and from death comes life. Everything in this world, in its own way, points to Christ.
In recent weeks, considerable controversy has been sparked by the video trailer for a childish, amateurish production entitled Innocence of Muslims. In this almost spoof-like movie, the prophet Muhammad is pictured as a violent, unprincipled, pedophilic philanderer. Clearly, the intent of the movie was to provoke reaction, and indeed it has led to violent protests in many predominantly Muslim countries. A minister in the government of Pakistan offered a substantial financial reward to anyone who kills the film’s producer. In the words of one religious leader, the minister’s views “represent the true spirit of Islam” – while such a statement might be disputed by millions of more peace-loving Muslims.
The holiness, or ‘apartness’, of God is very evident in the Bible. His names tell of his eternal existence, his creative power, and his sovereignty. He is the God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Yet, as pointed out by Arthur Pink in The Attributes of God, “a study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.” The holiness of God demands judgment against sin, because sin is, by definition, what God is not.
At London’s Heathrow airport, an interesting billboard message, sponsored by a major international bank, currently greets arriving visitors. Predicting how the world might be in the future, the bank suggests that “your DNA will be your identity.” In this unnerving vision of the future, our given name will no longer be our distinguishing mark; instead, we will be known by the mark of our internal beast – our genetic code.
Driving recently by a small country church, I was struck by the message displayed on the church sign: “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” Clearly, church leaders were protesting recent statements made by political leaders in support of gay marriage. While the message is sound teaching within the context of the church, what purpose does it serve when posted for those outside the church to see? Does it invite the spiritually needy to come hear the good news of Christ, or does it turn them away?
According to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ resurrection, when a group of women approached the tomb, “there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.” Since Jesus was already raised, and his resurrected body could pass through solid objects, the stone was rolled away solely for the benefit of his followers: Now they could see for themselves “the folded grave clothes where his body lay.” God does not demand blind faith; he provides us with ways to test the veracity of his claims.
Collagen is the single most abundant protein in our bodies and can be found in tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, teeth, skin, hair, organs, and blood vessels. The properties of this versatile molecule are surprisingly varied. Bundles of collagen fibers, for example, are stronger than steel and give bone its strength. Since other collagen structures can bend, our joints can move. In the cornea of the eye, collagen’s unique matrix structure makes it transparent so we can see. As pointed out by one renowned technologist, “it’s hard not to attribute divinity to it.”