Unless you have been living in a bubble for the last two days, you have heard the news that Sony Pictures made a movie called “The Interview” whose premise is two guys being hired to kill Kim-Jong-un, the current supreme leader of North Korea, and after the company’s network was hacked, data stolen, and threats made against any movie theater playing the film on its upcoming release date (Christmas day), it has been cancelled.
The primary response to the terrorist threat and Sony’s submission to it is outrage over the loss of freedom of speech.
Ben Stiller called the exchange: “a threat to freedom of expression”
Oscar Winning screen writer Aaron Sorkin said: “Today the US succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech.”
Actor Steve Carrell called it: “a sad day for creative expression”.
So, let’s observe the facts. There is a country who has remained on the top of the list for most major security and threat lists since the 1950’s, who has successfully hermitized their entire population and kept them alienated from the world, monitoring and barely allowing any outside influence – like the internet – and regularly locking up and sentencing people to prison camps for beliefs and minimal offenses. They lock up foreigners who follow Jesus, they falsely accuse people and imprison and kill them for Spiritual beliefs. Sony Entertainment decided to make a comedy about hiring two regular-joe guys to assassinate the actual leader of the country. This country retaliates with a terrorist threat to expose secrets and blow up movie theaters.
And we are outraged over their successful bullying tactic – which infringes on our freedom of speech.
People are dying. They have no access to the Gospel. They have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, even though the largest church in the world is just a few hundred miles away in South Korea. They have no hope. They do not have enough to eat. They suffer injustice and oppression every day. People who go in to try to tell them about Jesus get locked up and killed.
And yet the atrocity here is an infraction of our freedom of speech?
Our focus is so wrong, folks. Forget for a minute the fact that our entertainment industry sought to make a comedy based on assassinating one of the most terrible dictators in the world, and consider our response.
It’s all about me. My rights. My freedom. My happiness. Who cares if a terrorist threatened to blow me up, it is my right to go see whatever movie I want to see. Because it will entertain me for 90 minutes. It is funny. Can you imagine if Sony had released the movie, the theaters played it, and people were blown up? The law suits would be endless. Families of every victim, employees and customers alike, would be seeking millions of dollars in reparation. The risk was simply too high, even though we pride ourselves for not negotiating with terrorists. The entertainment industry fears us as much as they fear them. Because it’s all about me. MY happiness, MY safety and MY entertainment.
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…
– 1 Tim 4.1-2
We are in the last day. We are listening to deceitful spirits that keep us focused on our daily, temporal, physical pleasures. Our consciences have been seared as with a branding iron to the point that we would laugh at the situation in North Korea and do not grieve – and that we would respond to the situation by focusing on our “freedom” of speech. Jesus told us to go make disciples of all nations. He also said,
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
– Matt 24.14
So as long as North Korea remains closed to the Gospel and the people have not yet heard of Jesus’ saving work on the cross, the end will not come. Jesus will not return until they have heard. The greatest need of the people of North Korea is Jesus Christ. Period. Yes, they are oppressed and abused and hungry, but so were the Christians of the early Church. So was Jesus. So are most Christians around the world today. America is not the norm.
This threat of terrorism is sobering. It is sobering because as weapons continue to advance, America will soon not be out of range for our enemies. In fact, we may already be within their range. But it is more sobering to see the level of self-absorption we have, and our level of complacency when our desires are being satisfied. “Don’t you dare step on my freedom of speech, but you go right on ahead and kill and imprison your people, and keep them from hearing about Jesus”.
The world needs Jesus. Everything else is peripheral. Everything. Food, electricity, water, shelter, clothing, safety, rights, jobs, security. None of those things will get anyone into right relationship with God. None of those things will save anyone. Let’s get over ourselves. Let’s get over our “rights”. Let’s not mock one of the most tragic situations in the world, and let’s take Jesus to them.