I’ll admit it: The movie, “Karate Kid” has to some degree defined me as a person. I’m not talking about the nepotistically-produced, pathetic excuse for a remake. I mean the gloriously cheesy, deliciously predictable original. I grew up without a father and really without a consistent father figure. As a modern individualist, my rational mind never allowed me to acknowledge my need for a mentor but the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi compelled my hungry heart. Ironically, the movie came out during one of the two summers I spent with my father. We are both fans of the martial arts. We went together. Sitting next to a man who had never been there watching a man who didn’t exist, I found a mentor.
I got into Tae Kwon Do. Martial arts helped me in many ways. However I hung up my dobok three years later when I discovered a greater mentor – Jesus. After twenty five years of training under the Master, I’m still blown away by all he has to teach. Looking back, I’m surprised to discover that Jesus and Mr. Miyagi teach similar lessons and employ similar methods. Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing a few. The first is:
“Avoid the middle of the road.”
On the day of his first lesson, Mr. Miyagi asked Daniel, “Are you ready?” Daniel responded, “I guess so.” The master seized this teachable moment by explaining that a man who walks on either side of a road is safe while the one who walks in the middle will be “Squish! Just like grape.” Mr. Miyagi admonished that a person who makes up his mind either way regarding karate will be safe while the person who takes the “guess so” approach to karate places himself in harm’s way.
Jesus also instructed people who offered him conditional commitment that they would be better off not following (Luke 14:25-33). In fact, half-hearted disciples make the Master want to barf (Rev. 3:14-18). From the standpoint of the progress of the gospel, an open opponent is preferable to a half-hearted adherent.
Jesus and Mr. Miyagi teach that those who would come under their tutelage must buy in or get out. The alternative is “squish.”
To be continued…