“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ taught us that small things can bring about incredible, miraculous change. From the smallest catalyst, a new reality may emerge. I ask you to pray and hope with me that the recent decision for North and South Korea to field a joint women’s ice hockey team, and march under a pro-unification flag at the Winter Olympics, will result in a fundamental change in the tensions between the two countries.
The vision for a “peace games” is nothing short of a miracle. Where politics, governments, corporations, religious entities, and media outlets have failed, competitive sports may offer us a way forward. To celebrate the achievements of athletes, we can find a common ground to meet and make peace. What an amazing opportunity.
The Olympics symbolize a global community experienced rarely and in few other ways. The brightest and best in multiple fields of athletic prowess come together on a world stage to compete – and to support a higher purpose. Some feel that this event has become too political and controversial, and in many significant ways, this is true. But for the Koreas? This is an unbelievable and truly hopeful first step.
There is an important and grace-filled message for our U.S. government in this, too. We can support, we can encourage, and we can advise, but this will be worked out best and most practically by Koreans. There is wonderful evidence in this current process and gesture that those most impacted possess everything necessary to working out their own solution. Coercive threats and continued pressure cannot help this process. Let us pray that our government officials might have the wisdom, respect, and confidence to let Korean leadership work out their own way forward.
We are experiencing a “mustard seed” moment in our global community. There has been more positive communication between North and South Korea over the Olympic participation than in any other arena in years. The Korean peninsula has found common ground, and a focus that supersedes most disagreements. There is a message and a hope for us here. What unites us can be more powerful than what divides us.
Disagreement is a choice – we choose what to be upset about. We choose to hold onto hurts and offenses and insults. We choose to make our divisions more important than our faith-based unifications. Shame on us when we decide what we disagree over is more important than what we agree on.
Our Church has such a powerful opportunity to witness to unity and faith. It is impossible to read Jesus’ words and teachings and say that unity is not central to the gospel message. Many try, but they fail in the light of careful reading and study. It only takes a small, but significant commitment to love one another in Christ to bring about foundational and systemic change.
Join me in fervent prayer for Korea. May the ability to unite over the Olympics be nothing short of a harbinger of greater things to come – healing, reconciliation, collaboration, restoration, and one day, true unity. The prayer is very simple: God’s will be done. Amen.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).