During my recent trip to Japan, we had the opportunity to tour many temples. Japan’s native religion is Shinto, a religion that is based upon nature worship, seeing god in every living creature and every natural phenomena. Many years later, Buddhism arrived and became ingrained within Japanese society. Of the many Buddhist teachings, one overarching thought is nothing is permanent. These two religions have profoundly shaped the Japanese culture and their approach to spirituality. As our guide remarked, it is difficult for many Japanese to accept an absolute God, as Christians do.
As I pondered this statement, I remembered that Japan is a nation of over 120 million people, yet less than 1% identify themselves as Christians. The same cultural and religious influences that have shaped so many wonderful Japanese sensibilities like their attention to detail, politeness, and humility, have also hindered their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one!
There is only one God. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is unchanging, immortal, and eternal. As one reads the Bible, it is evident that God knew that man would very easily turn from worshipping the Creator and instead worship the creation. God knew that an ephemeral truth would replace an absolute truth.
My heart aches for the people of Japan. It is my ancestral heritage and I appreciate and admire so much of their rich culture and history. And yet, so many of them have yet to hear the Good News of the Gospel. And if they have heard it, their hearts may be hardened to the message.
I pray that God, through His Holy Spirit, will continue to open the door for the people of Japan to hear His Word.