Man Up–Week 2

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Be Strong, Be Strengthened Warrior

Ah men and their addictions…
Porn gets much of the spotlight in the christian culture these days, followed by either drugs or alcohol or a soupy-swampy cocktail of both. What we don’t hear much about it seems is violence addiction. “What’s that?” you say? Exactly my point…

Movies and TV series force feed us violence at unprecedented levels these days. I know Game of Thrones has had all kinds of controversy within the church because they blatantly show some boobies – but the level of violent display goes all the way to eleven. If you watched it (and I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t have) consider the feeling you felt when that hated character of Joffrey got what was coming to him. The feeling of elation at the violent death of a character you have been led to despise – it is a toxic formula for your heart. The worse a bad guy is in a movie, the more you look forward to the spectacular death that awaits them. Sure this has a word to us about justice, and who can fault anyone for upholding a thing like that, but it also generates a blood frenzy within our hearts that does not belong alongside the mind of the one following after Christ.

Just as porn takes a healthy masculine desire (sex) and twists it into a thing pernicious, so does extreme consumer violence take a healthy masculine impulse and buckles it into abuse and cruelty and bloodlust. That impulse is warriorship. 

“Protecting yourself is self-defense. Protecting others is warriorship.”

I rather like this simple definition of warrior. Yes it implies physical confrontation, but it surely goes beyond that. As warrior, you are committed with protecting the people you love, whether family or community or perhaps even an ideal you hold as beneficial to your loved ones and theirs. In this world you will have trouble, and there is a time for both peace and for war. Days will come, and may be upon you in a tick, when you must take up your sword and enter the struggle.
Why is Rick such a great teacher? Because he is a warrior about it. He teaches to strengthen you and protect you. He, as a spiritual leader, is committed to seeing you grow and thrive because you have much to contend with and fearsome enemies at your doorstep. These enemies are not savages with curved swords. These adversaries look like complacency and consumerism and self-absorption. They may be a simple disgust with the Good or a disregard of the Beautiful, or disdain toward the Truth. 
A warrior is one who is actively engaged in the battle. I would suppose it is possible to be a warrior and a pacifist at the same time, but certainly it is not possible to be a warrior and a spectator at the same time. I know there are many warriors among us here at AC3 – please allow me now to call you forth as our champions to stand with us and for us.
Quoting one of my teachers – as I like to do:
“The true warrior is not merely a superb fighting machine.He needs to confront and overcome much more than mere opponents. He must triumph over adversities, philosophical stumbling blocks, spiritual trials, emotional crises, social and cosmic injustice, his own weakness and possibly the devil himself.” ~David Carradine
If you were to visit my house and peruse my movie collection, I’m confident that you would be quite impressed with the kung fu section. (we can discuss my own violence addiction later…) I’ve been watching kung fu movies my entire life. As a kid in Hawaii, I often spent my Saturday afternoons in front of the tv. I was not watching Scooby-Doo or Gilligan’s Island like the rest of the kids… no, I was watching Kung Fu Theater – Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu and all the rest. My favorite part of any kung fu movie is the training scene. This happens shortly after the protagonist’s master has been murdered by the evil bastard warlord and justice must be fulfilled at any cost. Our hero then goes into a season of training… beating his body to make it strong and capable. The fight of his life, and possibly his death, awaits him.
Watch this for a taste (really, I mean it, spend 3 min and actually watch it):
“Kung fu lives in everything we do. It lives in how we put on a jacket, in how we take off a jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything is kung fu.”
In China, the word Kung Fu refers to any practice that requires discipline, patience, energy, and an extended period of time to complete. It is not specifically a style of fighting even though that is how we use the words here in the states. In its original meaning, kung fu can refer to any skill achieved through hard work, tireless study and relentless practice – the grueling training scenes to strengthen the mind and the body are a great example, but the idea can be applied easily to how you live today. 
Kung fu lives in how you show up at your day job, in how you treat your wife and children, in how you study the scriptures and apply the wisdom God gives you. It lives in how greet a brother, in how you serve a sister, in how you teach the young and revere the aging. Kung fu lives in how you respect and love and fight to protect. 
Kung fu results in honor and a code – every true warrior has a code. The one without a code is brute beast and no man. There are things worth fighting for and people worth protecting. The code of the warrior rightly assigns value to these and sets the price of protecting them. This is not a thing that can be stolen from another nor passively received – the strength of the warrior must be developed through training and resilience. 
You may not think about “gentle Jesus meek and mild” in a conversation about warriorship, but give it some thought. He carried the ultimate code – the gospel of the kingdom, and he paid the ultimate price to protect the ones he calls friends. He spent years developing his kung fu – the temple elders were amazed at his grasp of scripture even as a child, and He could not be tricked by his adversaries but turned their words back upon them time and again. He fought in life and he fought with His death. He was and is the True Warrior in this world. 
Now, we are in a series about biblical masculinity, but I want to make it clear that women also have an instinct to warriorhood. It doesn’t always involve swinging battle axes on bloody battle fields (though in some stories it rightly does – think Joan of Arc). The female warrior protects and nurtures. The female warrior has moved beyond petty competitions and fights the good fight so that her children and her tribe may be harbored in the safety of her strength. 
Whether man or woman, the Word speaks the same call to you:
Be strong in the Lord for the fight
Train fiercely for the conflicts that lie ahead
Stand firm before the destroyer and protect those that would be his prey
Watch for attacks from the left or the right, ahead or behind, within or without
Be strengthened by every encounter for your adversary will be relentless
I will leave you with another training scene (real life stuff here) – not because I want you to develop the Infamous Iron Palm Technique but rather I desire to inspire you to train up the Force of Iron Faith. The battle of your life is still before you but LORD is with you mighty warrior (Judges 6:12)

-Written by Shea Caperoon