When I was about 8 years old, I used to love watching all those cheesy, low budget karate movies on television. You know the ones where the lips don't match the audio and the sound of a man being hit is about a second off from the sound effect. I have grown up watching Jackie Chan (Yes, I still watch his movies). His flying kicks, fast hands and acrobatic skills all wrapped up into his silly facial expressions has me following ol' Jackie after 20 some years.
I remember going outside in the woods to practice my blocks on tree limbs and kicking the trunks of trees. I dreamed of being the next karate legend. I used to think a ninja was sneaking up on me in the woods and I would have to fight him to the death. In reality it was a tree, but in my world, I had to protect my life (maybe I needed 'real' friends- ha!).
At age 16, I started training in the Martial Arts. Committing to many hours at the studio and many more hours at home. I had such a strong passion for it-- some would say an obsession. I continued on through my late teen years and all the way through until my late 20's. Then, life changed my course; marriage, kids, and busyness took over. My priorities and demands in life took me away from training in the Martial Arts.
I am now in my mid-30's and those who know me will say, "Don't mess with him, he trained in two different styles of Martial Arts!"
Here's the point that bothers me: "Am I still an expert Martial Artist if I haven't been training?" I haven't practiced my stances, blocks, punches, or kicks for at least 7 years now. Even though the instinct is still with me and the fundamentals are etched in my mind, I know that I am not as quick or as in shape, like in my 20's. If I were to enter a tournament today, looking the way I do, these guys would laugh at me.
Here's a further question I asked myself, "Is a Black Belt really a Black Belt if he hasn't been training diligently?"
Same thing goes with Christians: "Is a Christian really a Christian if he/she hasn't been training diligently?" You may have heard the statement, "I'm a non-practicing Catholic." -or- "I'm a Christian, but I only attend church on holidays."
I can expose the bare-naked truth that I am no longer a Martial Artist. I am someone who once trained in the Arts, but now I only possess the knowledge and memories of the things I used to achieve. What good are my hands and feet if I don't train them to be effective for the streets?
Christians, what good are your hands and feet if you aren't using them to effectively touch the lives of those on the streets? I'm not talking about Judo-flipping people randomly. I am talking about using your feet for God's mission. The Great Commission starts off with the commandment, "Go". In order to make a difference in the world, we must get on our feet and GO!
Look at how God sees your feet when you share Him with people, "... Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" Romans 10:15 (NASB). See also: Isaiah 52:7
You either are a Black Belt or you're not; there is no in-between. Paraphrasing Mr. Miyagi, "You either say yes... or no. No middle. Squash like grape!" Then, Mr. Miyagi squeezes his thumb and index fingers together and says, "Squoooosh!" The same goes with our label as Christians. We either are or aren't. We either are following God's plans for our lives or we aren't... there's no in-between... no middle.
To be an effective Christian is much like the discipline of a Black Belt.
- You must learn the Way to Enlightenment (through God's word).
- Meditate daily (in prayer).
- You must use your knowledge and employ it (by serving God and others).
- Practice...practice... practice (sharpening the skills God has given you).
You want to be a Black Belt? Train like one.
You want to be a Christian? Train like He did.
The Bible is full of examples of how Jesus walked, talked, loved, and sacrificed for others.
IF YOU WANT TO BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST; A CHRISTIAN-
THEN, HIS MISSION NEEDS TO BECOME YOUR MISSION!
To be a Christian is to represent Him: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17 (NIV)
The Way to Enlightenment Revealed:
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (NASB)
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