The Karate Kid
by Ryan Duncan
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. – Matthew 5:39
When it comes to old movies, there’s really no beating the 1984 Karate Kid. It’s the classic coming-of-age story of a young boy who finds his potential with the help of a wise, old man. Of course, back then all I cared about were the awesome fight scenes. The first time I saw the movie I must have spent a week doing “Crane kicks” around the house like an inebriated flamingo. Those same action sequences haven’t aged well, and these days The Karate Kid looks downright corny, but the film still contains some valuable lessons for people who listen.
At one point in the movie Daniel grows frustrated with his training. He’s tired of being bullied, tired of being treated like a loser, he wants some payback and karate seems like the best way to get it. Mr. Miyagi listens patiently as his young pupil vents his anger, then pulls him aside and in broken English tries to explain the essence of what he’s teaching.
Pointing to his head, Miyagi says, “Daniel san, karate here.” He then points to his heart and says “Karate here.” Lastly, he points at his fists and say, “karate never, never here.”
The Karate Kid might be a cheesy movie, but I think a lot of Christians could take a lesson from Mr. Miyagi. It bothers me how often I hear pastors and Christian leaders say things like, “We’re soldiers in the army of God”, “We’re fighting a Culture War”, or “The line is being drawn in the sand”. I understand how hard it is to live as a Christian in modern culture, believe me, but that doesn’t mean we start living our faith with our fists. In fact, that sounds almost counter to what Jesus told his disciples to do.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”– Luke 6:27-31
The truth is Jesus doesn’t need us to fight His battles. Our job is to be reflections of His love and mercy, and we can’t do that when we’re branding people as enemies of the Church. The same principles Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel about karate are true for Christians. God is in our hearts, God is in our minds, but God is never, never in our fists.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Take some time and examine how you witness to others. Are you showing them genuine friendship?
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