Whose Side are You On?

Good news for those still in the fight.

by Trey Graham

One of history’s most fascinating stories involves several Japanese soldiers from World War II who, though the war ended in 1945, continued to fight the battle until the mid-1970s. These men were fighting a war they had already lost, a war they could never win, a war their country had already ended. These soldiers, ever faithful to the Imperial Army of Japan, refused to give up, because they felt that the announcements of defeat were a trick by their enemy to convince them to surrender.

One of them — Shoichi Yokoi, a sergeant in the Japanese Imperial Army –gained international fame upon his return to Japan in 1972 for his dramatic tale of survival in the jungles of Guam for 27 years after the war ended. The Japanese public and media were intrigued by his bare diet of nuts, berries, frogs, snails, and rats and how he wove materials and clothing from tree bark.

Another man, officer Hiroo Onoda, kept a functioning weapon and was accused of killing several villagers before he was discovered in the Philippine jungle in 1974. According to press accounts, the Japanese military sent Lt. Onoda to Lubang in 1944 with orders to spy on United States’ forces. When more U.S. troops arrived at the end of the war, Onoda defiantly decided to stay, refusing to believe Japan really had given up. For decades after the war ended, he survived on food gathered from the jungle or stolen from local farmers. Onoda finally came out of hiding on March 10, 1975, after his former commanding officer traveled to Lubang to meet with him and convinced him to stop fighting.

Foolishness

Many people in our world are just like these Japanese men. They keep fighting a spiritual war that’s already been won. They consider the message about Jesus Christ dying for their sins as nothing but foolishness: “But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NLT).

Just like the Japanese men who would not listen to the calls for surrender, these people refuse to surrender to Christ, because they are still aligned with His enemy, still convinced of the glory of their cause, fighting valiantly for an army that will never win.

Call to surrender

Another fact makes this historical narrative even more interesting. Other former Japanese soldiers, who had surrendered and stopped fighting many years before, traveled to these remote villages and tried to convince their comrades to lay down their arms, to give up the fight. Sadly, these stubborn soldiers, committed to a losing cause, would not listen — even to their fellow soldiers.

Some of us need to stop fighting against Christ and give our lives to Him. Eternal life follows surrender; winning comes by leaving the losing side. If we don’t yet know Jesus, we must give our lives to Him.

Choice

Whose side are you on? Have you given your life to God? Have you surrendered to Christ, or are you still fighting your own battles, hoping that you might win this war? Just like the Japanese soldiers, you and I have no chance of winning this spiritual battle, because one side has already won. We simply must choose whether to fight vainly for the losers or surrender unconditionally to the winners. It is our choice.

Will you be like the rich, young leader who, when confronted with a similar choice, rejected Jesus and “went away grieved” (Matthew 19:22)? Or will you be like that great commander in the Bible, Joshua, who proudly proclaimed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15)?

What do you choose?


Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, except where noted.