(This is the ninth in a series of entries drawing analogies between experiences that Ambassador Joseph Grew shared about in his book Ten Years in Japan and practical aspects of being an ambassador for Jesus Christ)
Ambassador Grew had some very challenging situations to address during his years of representing the United States to Japan. In his diary he wrote about the frustration of dealing with people who were deceived, but didn’t realize it, and refused to believe the truth.
In the early 1930’s Japan was being very aggressive toward her neighbors (especially by invading Manchuria), and this aggression had resulted in Japan’s violation of at least three treaties â€“ one of which they had signed, along with many other nations, just a few years prior in 1928. And yet most Japanese people refused to believe that their nation was being hostile, and instead felt they were in full compliance with all treaties. Ambassador Grew wrestled with the challenge of trying to speak truth to those with whom he interacted so that they could understand what was right and true. At one point he wrote that he knew very, very few Japanese who would be willing to say, “Yes, we’ve broken every one of those treaties by invading Manchuria, and our argument of â€˜self-defense’ was a joke, but, we needed Manchuria, and that is that.” The great majority of Japanese believed that their actions were in the right, that they had not violated any treaties, that they were not starting any wars, and that their aggressive incursions were actually designed to promote and spread peace upon the earth.
Ambassador Grew wrote that dealing with someone who is deceived is much harder than dealing with someone, no matter how brazen, who will openly admit that he has done wrong.
While Ambassador Grew pointed out the challenge, he didn’t offer any specific counsel that would assist us in being ambassadors for Christ.
Jesus was our ultimate example in everything, and it is interesting to see His interactions with two types of people during His time on earth: the self-righteous and very religious Pharisees who would not admit their sin, and the “sinners” of His day (tax-collectors, fornicators, etc.) who readily acknowledged their wrong-doing. We know that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and we see Jesus pointing out the sin in both types of people.
One type of people primarily rejected His admonitions while the other group tended to humbly accept His Words. One group fought against Him, while the other group sought to be near Him. One group tried to have Him killed, and the other group wept when He died. One group wanted to cover up His resurrection, while the other group rejoiced at the news He was alive. Through it all, one type of people vehemently proclaimed their righteousness and denied their wrongdoing, while the other group humbly acknowledged their sin, repented of it, and believed in the Savior.
Jesus patiently and lovingly worked with each group, and yet we see that it was truly much harder and there appeared to be less visible fruit when dealing with those who were deceived. First off, I would hope that none of us are in the group of people who are living a sinful (but perhaps religious) lifestyle while either refusing to acknowledge sin or being deceived into not seeing the sin (Galatians 5:13).
Next, we can realize that as we interact with others, there will be some who will readily acknowledge their sin, while others, for whatever reason, will not. The purpose of the law is to show a person his need for a Savior: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
Whether or not someone believes he has broken God’s law, our role as ambassadors is to gently seek to share truth with him: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2:24), so that he will be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).
For us, then, the key is not to become weary in well doing. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Let us not be surprised that there are people who have hard hearts and are unwilling to acknowledge or see their sin, and as a result areÂ less likely to repent and believe in the Savior. That has always been the case: whether it was Jesus ministering to the proud, religious, yet sinful Pharisees of his day, or Ambassador Grew seeking to represent the United States to Japan in the early 1930’s. May we simply continue to share with everyone that the Lord brings into our lives, about Jesus, the Savior of our souls, and entrust the results to Him.