I’ve only been to Japan once (and even then just for a very short visit), but like many people I’ve been fascinated by events taking place there recently. In short: the Emperor of Japan, Akihito, abdicated the throne after three decades (the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in more than 200 years), allowing for his son, Naruhito, to take over the largely ceremonial but hugely influential role in the island nation.
The ascension of a new emperor also heralds the beginning of a new official era in Japanese history. Over is the era of Heisei (roughly meaning “peace everywhere”). Now is the time of Reiwa, or “beautiful harmony.”
But we don’t have to wait for decades or be dependent upon the actions of others to enter into a new era of our own. Ever since Jesus was crucified on the cross about 2,000 years ago and rose from the dead, not just one country, but the entire world has been living in a new era: an era in which we can live forever. Better yet, unlike the old Japanese emperor’s abdication and the new one’s ascension, we don’t have to be born to certain parents to be able to take part, and there’s no complicated series of ceremonial rituals to perform, either: all we have to do is repent of our sins and believe in Jesus and His sacrifice and we can all join in. That’s far greater than anything any earthly ruler can do; after all, Jesus is literally the King of Kings – and His Kingdom is greater than any on the planet ever could hope to be.
Japan may be an incredible, amazing place to visit or live in, a place of incredible beauty and even more incredible cultures. But it still pales in comparison to Heaven, a place the Bible tells us time and time again has no equal – and never will, no matter how hard humans may try. Getting to Japan can also be expensive. The price of a ticket to Heaven? In terms of money, nothing.
And then there’s this: in Heaven, we’re all equal. There are no emperors or empresses, no rich, no poor, no privileged or disadvantaged. Pure, perfect, eternal equality and peace.
There is no harmony more beautiful than that.