Why so few born-again Christians in Japan …part four

 

Ritualistic manners and politeness and the Great Depression (Mental Stress) weighing down the whole nation …

 

Foreign visitors to Japan are impressed with the exceptional high level of politeness and excellent services showered upon them at shopping malls and almost everywhere else …

But in an inconvenient way “manners and politeness” in Japan have become a form of rituals and a lot of people are pressured to do it!

There are excessive demands and expectations for Japanese to be polite and to show proper manners.

 

I shall call this “The Religion of Modern Day Japanese Living inside Japan

 

Very often people who don’t show the Japanese way of “manners and politeness” stick out like a sore thumb and get ridiculed or condemn or even put to shame!

Why so serious about this subject?

People’s social life been affected to the extent of being “un-healthy

Japan as a nation has a long history of high suicide rate, we already know that, and what “outsiders” are not aware are actual reasons and causes of suicide.

A more disturbing social problem is the increasing cases of Karōshi (過労死) – death from overwork.

The more horrifying truth behind such causes of death is that it has a lot more to do with “mental stress” from their workplace and work environment, rather than the overall productivities and efficiencies.

 

Means to say, there are workers who died from work not because they are not productive but stressed up and depressed.

 

Furthermore there are increasing cases where it has become difficult to draw a clear conclusion between Karōshi (過労死) and Karōjisatsu (過労自殺) – suicide due to work stress and overload.

This is very serious because people who are well-educated, well-trained professionals are killing themselves due to mental stress.

 

Shocking facts and figures …

 

Most of Japanese have tertiary education and Japan have the lowest un-employment rate in the world.

Furthermore Japan has high basic salary for Japanese citizen and Japanese workers are much better paid compared to their counter-parts across Asia.

Not forgetting to mention the long list of health care and social benefits for their own Japanese citizen.

Means to say, the average Japanese who is working have access to much better living conditions and benefits compared to others in Asia.

So what is it that is causing all these stress and depression?

 

Excessiveness

 

Excessiveness of what?

Excessiveness of demands and expectations which need not be part of work technically but “culture” and “social norm

For example, the whole nation is trying to address a widespread problem with very bad work-life balance where workers staying on in their office and work place for many hours way beyond their assigned work time.

The actual reason may appear shocking, and most Japanese employee may not want to directly talk about it but it has a lot to do with excessive expectation for manners and politeness to show commitment and dedication to their company and work.

Means to say, if you work in an office together with a group of Japanese employees, inside a Japanese company, own by Japanese, and if you are the first to leave your desk, this appear “not polite” and “bad impression”, especially if your superior is still around.

That is the simplified explanation.

And there are employers who took advantage of such “culture” and “social norm” to pressure workers to work extra hours to demonstrate their dedication and commitment to the company.

Such pressures and expectations can be either self-imposed or from social environment and third-parties, and it has driven people “crazy”.

 

There is a work culture of “manners oriented” rather than resulted oriented.

Means to say, a Japanese looking for job may not get work if the employer think this person is “not polite” and “not good mannered”.

Employees work in fear of losing their job if they received complaints and criticism of “not polite” and “not good mannered”, even in case where such complaints are not well-founded and base-less.

 

Now what has all these go to do with church and the Gospel?

 

Gospel outreach and evangelism have been hindered by such cultural expectations and demands.

Those who want to come to church have been hindered.

And those who need to receive invitation to come have been hindered as well.

 

First about those who want to come to church, and this refers to believers, those who are already baptized, born-again Christians.

I personally know of Japanese Christians who have been hindered to attend Sunday Service on a regular basis due to bad work-life balance and extra workload on week-end.

Interestingly more and more companies are trying to arrange “English Class” for their workers on weekend!

Guest what … a lot of these “English Teachers” are U.S citizens and Christians who want to go church themselves!

 

It is an understatement to say that this whole nation sinned against God

 

(Exodus 20:8-11)

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

(出エジプト記 20:8-11)

主の定めた安息日を特別の日として守りなさい。 すべての仕事は六日のうちにすませなさい。 七日目は神の休息の日だから、その日は一日、人も家畜も仕事をしてはならない。外国人も、ここでいっしょに住んでいる限り、この戒めを守る義務がある。  わたしが六日の間に天と地と海と、その中のいっさいのものを造り、七日目に休んだからだ。わたしは安息日を祝福し、特別な日と定めた。

 

Even machines and robot need to rest for maintenance but in Japan people work to death.

 

This whole nation needs to repent of excessiveness!

 

Next, those who need to receive invitation to church are hindered.

 

(Romans 10:9-15)

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

(ローマ人への手紙 10:9-15)

なぜなら、もし自分の口で、「イエスキリストは私の主です」と告白し、自分の心で、「神はイエスキリストを死者の中から復活させてくださった」と信じるなら、あなたは救われるのです。 人は、心で信じることによって、神の前に正しい者とされ、その信仰を口で告白することによって救われるのです。  聖書は私たちに、「主キリストを信じる者は、決して失望させられることがない」と教えています。 ユダヤ人と外国人との区別はありません。同じ主がユダヤ人にとっても外国人にとっても主であり、求める者にはだれにでも、恵みを惜しみなく与えてくださるからです。 主の御名を呼び求める者は、だれでも救われるのです。

しかし、主を信じていなければ、どうして主に、「救ってください」と求めることができるでしょうか。また、主イエスのことを一度も聞いたことがなければ、どうしてそのお方を信じることができるでしょうか。だれかが教えてくれなければ、どうしてそのお方のことを聞けるでしょうか。 また、神に遣わされなければ、どうして人々のところへ出かけて教えることができるでしょうか。聖書に、「神との平和を宣べ伝え、良い知らせをもたらす人の足は、なんとうるわしいことか」(イザヤ52・7)とあるのは、まさにこのことです。

 

Evangelism simply means to preach the words of Jesus, to speak forth the Gospel.

But due to excessive concern for manners and politeness, it has become a “cultural social norm” to be “not direct” and “not assertive” in people to people communication and conversation.

Among the most difficult for Japanese to handle are direct and assertive facts and truths that we have sinned against God and we need to repent!

The next shocking direct and assertive fact and truth for Japanese to accept is

 

(John 14:6)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

 

(ヨハネの福音書 14:6)

イエスはトマスに言われました。「いいですか。わたしが道です。そして真理でもあり、いのちでもあります。わたしを通らなければ、だれ一人、父のところへは行けません。

 

What Jesus actually said means there is no other options to salvation and eternal life.

That is factual, direct and assertive.

 

Even if people don’t agree, we should never change the message because those words were spoken by Jesus Himself!

 

Of course we don’t force people to accept Jesus, but people need to be told of the truth!

People need to make well-informed choices that Jesus is THE way to salvation and eternal life!

There is salvation in none other except Jesus!

There are real life problem in Japan only Jesus can save us from.

 

In-His-Service

David Z