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Ikebukero is one of the large commercial centers in Tokyo with one of the busiest train stations. I intended to spend the night with a friend in Ikebukero so that I could easily go from there the next day to the American Embassy to renew my passport. It’s been ten years since I got the passport in Hawaii.

Typical night scene in Ikebukero, Tokyo

Typical night scene in Ikebukero, Tokyo

The first driver was a off duty policeman who specializes in the Japanese mafia known as the “Yakuza“. I hear these days the Yakuza are not very powerful. I hardly see them anymore. The Chinese and Russian mafia have taken over.

I talked to the policeman about my experiences with the Yakuza — usually OK. They normally don’t brother the common people. I’ve been treated to lunch by at least two of them. One thing that strikes me about mafia type of people is that they usually think they are pretty righteous and that society is wrong, not them. The policeman agreed with that point. I then brought out that man in general has this same attitude toward God. It’s called “self-righteousness”. We often think we know better than God. Many people even think they are “gooder” than God! But in reality, we are all sinners and criminals in God’s sight. Only Jesus did no sin and therefore paid the price for our crimes of ungratefulness toward God and unloving actions toward our fellow man. He paid the price with His own death!

The concept of “sin” is pretty clear in Western cultures, but very vague in the Japanese mind. Even Japanese who have come to know Jesus Christ and are still young in faith don’t understand very clearly what sin means. The policeman identified with what I had to say about the average criminal, but did not include himself as a “sinner” in his relationship with his Creator.

Unfortunately many church people in America seem to equate sin mainly with sexual pleasures, or even any type of pleasure while at the same time justifying truly horrible crimes in the eyes of God such as the occupation of Iraq! But Jesus didn’t condemn the drunks and harlots. In His eyes, the self-righteous religious leaders of His time were the real sinners!

I forgot my hat in the policeman’s car without giving him any way to contact me. I don’t think he even knew my last name. Somehow he figured out where I live and brought the hat back!

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About James Arendt

Born in 1950 and raised in Chicago Illinois, USA.
Served in the USAF from 1970 in San Antonio, Texas, Biloxi Mississippi, Sacramento California and Asaka, Japan and honorably discharged in 1974.
Became a full time missionary for Christ and served in Russia, China and Japan for 44 years and counting.
Lives by faith in God's supply with no fixed job or income.
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