If you’re going to be here [at church], I guess I’ll come every week, too.
– Fumiya Ninomiya to Chiba Saori
Hourou Musuko is one of my favorite anime series (I liked it so much that I ranked it number one among those that came out last year). As such, I decided to begin reading the manga and see the story I’ve missed leading up to the series.
Among the many storylines I wanted to read about was Chiba’s involvement in church. The anime mentions that she doesn’t go much, though when she does, she prays fervently (if for something a bit trivial). Why did she start going? Why did she stop?
Chapter seven of the manga gives the answer to the first part of that question. Chiba feels terrible about a gift she gave Nitori (at this point, I’m unsure if she felt guilty about the gift itself or for her actions after he returned it to her). She prays:
Please forgive me somehow! Please! After doing that horrible thing to Nitori, there’s no way I can face him again. Dear God, I’m a bad girl.
Chiba begins to attend church, where she meets Fumiya, a boy about her age who takes a liking to her. I know Fumiya – I’ve gone to church with many guys like him. During adolescence, it’s certainly typical for many to attend church for reasons other than a want to worship. And I knew guys that, like Fumiya, were there for the ladies. When I attended college, this didn’t change much; it only changed how smoothly these guys operated. And I’ve known a number of guys who at my age still attend to try to find a woman.
I imagine that Fumiya, who comes across as slimy and smart, will be a model student in the sisters’ classes. He’ll impress with how quickly he learns scripture and extrabiblical material. His outward appearance will be that of a model Christian.
But God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
And that’s why I feel God would be infinitely more please with Chiba than with Fumiya. Chiba may be a bit misguided, but here as well as later, she comes to God with an honest, open heart. And in that way, she’s like Elijah, Job, and Jonah, heroes of the Bible who were sometimes surprisingly blunt with God. But God loves people who are able to pour their hearts out before him. And I believe He’ll take an honest sinner any day over a self-righteous hypocrite. And it’s this lesson that I hope we all (and maybe evangelical Christians like myself most of all) learn.