From a New York Times story that ran several weeks ago:
Sang Ho Kim, 63, was out of work, drinking too much and generally lost. He had been arrested several times, including for driving while intoxicated. He had left his first wife in South Korea, married, divorced and married again. Nothing he did seemed to work out the way he wanted and, often, he blamed those around him for his failures.
Mr. Choi, 68, arrived in New York from Seoul, penniless, four decades ago. His first job was selling wigs for Jewish women in Herald Square and, because his boss learned that he was the only employee not skimming profits, he was promoted. He saved up and bought a deli, then a carwash. Eventually he and his wife, Christine, 67, started Savenergy, a business selling energy-efficient LED light fixtures.
A year ago, after they met at the Hyo Shin Bible Presbyterian Church in Queens, Mr. Choi offered Mr. Kim a job. More than a job, it was a chance to get his life back on track.
But what started with an act of Christian kindness turned into a nasty business dispute and ended in a bloody rampage.
On Wednesday, the police say, Mr. Kim walked into Mr. Choi’s office in East Garden City, N.Y., pulled a gun and shot him in the head. They said he also shot and killed Yong Jae Shin, a young man who worked at the company.
On Thursday, at Nassau University Medical Center, his face bandaged where the bullet had entered and narrowly missed his brain, Mr. Choi had a simple message for Mr. Kim, whom the police were still seeking: Turn to Jesus. Heaven is not out of reach.
First, it was heartening to read a story from the NYT that was framed so explicitly and straightforwardly as a matter of Christian ethics. Perhaps it was just too difficult to evade in this instance. Notice how the fruits of Choi’s faith bookend his relationship with Kim: the act of charity at the outset and the words of forgiveness following the attempted murder.
Second, this quote by Choi’s daughter really caught my eye:
“I said, ‘Dad and Mom, I love you, I know of your Christian faith and you love to help people, but you’re not Jesus Christ; don’t act like Jesus Christ.’”
You simply cannot ask that of a Christian. It should be fundamental to our lives.
However, that’s not to say I don’t understand the impulse behind those words. Following Christ entails the rejection of our nature and the remaking of our hearts. It’s difficult and painful and, on a certain level, dangerous. Choi’s example demonstrates some of the risks. Yet, at the same time, there’s the most beautiful kind of freedom in Christ’s love - freedom from anger, hatred, and human pettiness. The path of sanctification allows us to glimpse how we were meant to be. In a way then, the call to be Christ-like is the burden and the blessing of a believer’s earthly existence.