Mathew 18:21-22 recounts, “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.”
Seventy is an important number in scripture and here it is associated with forgiveness. The day has come for forgiveness for the Korean peninsula. It is the time to end former division and violence and to reunite a broken country. The time has come to ﬁnalize the peace treaty and oﬃcially end the war. Our separation has gone on too long; the time for reuniﬁcation is upon us.
Seventy years kept families apart for over three generations. Seventy years rewrote signiﬁcant history for all Korean people. Seventy years is a human lifetime, according to the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90. One lifetime is enough to live apart; it is time for reconciliation and reunion.
Jesus blessed the peacemakers. Peacemaking is central to the identity of Christian disciples. There is a three-fold eﬀort needed for God’s peace to be established in our world. Peacemaking is the hard work of preparing hearts, minds and spirits to truly love, accept, aﬃrm and celebrate one another. Peacemakers cast the vision and prepare the plan. Peacebuilders implement the plan, provide a witness to others and help to teach and communicate what makes for peace and justice. Peacekeepers walk the walk and talk the talk. They live peace-ﬁlled and peace-driven lives. They embody and embrace the rituals and practices that maintain and sustain peace. The dynamic work of peacemakers, peacebuilders, and peacekeepers is Spirit-guided work for the transformation of the world.
Central to each peace function is prayer. Our prayers for peace, our meditations and contemplations of God’s vision of peace, our focused attention on the gospel call of peace and our embrace of God’s will in our own hearts and spirits are all preparing us for the challenges of peace work. A primary responsibility of Christian disciples is to pray and work for peace and justice.
Seventy years of division, hostility and strife is long enough. Join me in praying for ongoing dialogue and negotiation between North and South Korea. Pray that a vision of true and lasting peace emerges for the Korean peninsula, and that this vision becomes an inspiration to the whole global community that peace is not only possible but is the very will of God for our world.
Let us be advocates for change, for peace and for justice. Begin with prayer, prepare your hearts and minds, then act. Together we can make peace, build peace and keep peace, in Korea and around the planet.
Hee-Soo Jung is resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and is president of the board of Global Ministries.
For more on the history of the ecumenical work for peace in Korea and the Roundtable for Peace held in Atlanta in November 2018, read the Atlanta Statement (English