When the Lights go out in Pyongyang


This week the U.S. and North Korean governments entered an agreement which says that the North Koreans will put a moratorium on all development of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is cautiously optimistic since similar deals have been broken in the past when the North Koreans asked for more from the U.S. or claimed that the Americans had not held up their end of the bargain, according to the New York Times online.

In Daniel Gordon’s 2004 documentary A State of Mind there is a scene in which a family’s power goes out in their Pyongyang home. One family member says that it is all the Americans’ fault. One must wonder how the current heads of the North Korean government will explain to the people where the food aid is coming from. What is interesting is the picture of a people suffering under the effects of their own government and blaming another country which is trying to offer them help. The North Korean government has put itself in its current position by its extreme isolationism and the foreign sanctions that have come as a result of its aggressive actions.

This is quite an accurate picture of us and God. We find ourselves in a predicament as a result of our own mistakes and then blame the one who is trying to help us out of that predicament. And even when we repeatedly reach out for that help we lose it by breaking the rules God has set. Further, we blame him saying that He broke the promise or did not give us enough.

I am the person whose lights went out in Pyongyang. We all are. In 1981 the band Oingo Boingo released a song called “Only a Lad” part of which says: “The lady down the block/ She had a radio that Johnny wanted oh so bad/ So he took it the first chance he had/ Then he shot her in the leg/ And this is what she said/ Only a lad/ You really can’t blame him/ Only a lad/ Society made him/ Only a lad/ He’s our responsibility/ Only a lad/ He really couldn’t help it/ Only a lad/ He didn’t want to do it/ Only a lad/ He’s underprivileged and abused/ Perhaps a little bit confused”. Similarly, in part of a satirical work called “Creed” Steve Turner writes: “We believe that man is essentially good. It’s only his behavior that lets him down. This is the fault of society. Society is the fault of conditions. Conditions are the fault of society.” This is the current wisdom: that all people are essentially good but if one seems bad it is because of “society”. Thus, all people are good but when you lump them together they are bad. A simple mathematical analogy ought to help: If we add many positive numbers together we never get a negative number and when we put many negative numbers together we do not get a positive number. People are the same.

When we look at the desolation of the world we will either persist in stubbornly placing our trust in men or else choose to place it in God. If we continue, however, to look out on the wicked world with fear we have not actually put our trust in God. Trust in Him means that we do not fear the system of sin in our world but rather we come to hate sin. By way of personal illustration I despise snakes. I have said that I am afraid of them but that is not entirely the case. If it were I would not go to many of the places I do and I never really fear that I may inadvertently run into a snake there. Rather I have a very extreme revulsion to snakes. I find them revolting and unnatural. It should be this way with sin. We need not cower before it but also cannot allow it to look insubordinately up at us without making it cower.

This can be difficult when we see ourselves as “sinful” and the world as “evil”. The word “sinful” can almost suggest a hint of an excuse while “evil” sounds far more sinister. What happens when we reverse the terms and say that we are “evil” and the world is “sinful”? We see the darkness of our hearts and the true cause behind the world’s ills.

Whether we believe at our core that I am good and God is evil; I am good and the world is evil; I am good and the world is good; or that I am evil and the world is good; we must follow the truth and when we find our own evil as part of the world’s evil we will find our need for Someone to overcome ourselves.


Author: Andrew Lacasse

I am a pastor in Southern California. My passion is to help both the convinced and the curious see Christ from an angle their mind can respect and their soul can accept.

One thought on “When the Lights go out in Pyongyang”

  1. I agree (I think) but that would not be evil if you are right now would it? Good stuff and a big bite to digest at such an early hour. Thanks for the energy depth of your post.

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