My wife and I have jumped on the latest exercise fad/bandwagon. We just started working out using the P90X videos. These videos promise that in 90 days, if we keep up the work, we will go from an expanding waistline to completely ripped abs and awesomeness. All it takes is dedication on our part, and a lot of rolling about in the floor trying to do one more push-up/sit-up/crunchy frog. Should be fun.
As I was looking at the upcoming exercise videos, I noticed that one of the routines is called "Kempo". I imagine that this is a sort of kick-boxing type of training akin to the now out-dated Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos. That is, we'll be jumping around acting like we are doing martial arts, but instead of actually training to fight people, we'll only be fighting the battle of the bulge.
The thought of my wife and I jumping around in the living room doing karate kicks after we put the kids in the bed is a rather funny thought for me. It also makes me laugh to think that karate, which was invented to help people defend themselves, has now been re-invented to help us keep from getting fat. As I was musing upon our upcoming karate exercise night, I thought about how ridiculous it would be for me to start thinking that because I had done a bunch of Billy Blanks Tae Bo and now P90X Kempo, I was now a deadly martial artist. Can you imagine how silly that is?
Reality would soon settle in if I ever tried to test out my battle prowess I've learned on exercise videos in a ring against a real opponent. The wise words of Mike Tyson come to mind, "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." As humorous as these thoughts are, it suddenly occurred to me that this is exactly how many Christians treat their study of the Bible.
What I mean is that many Christians spend all of their time with other Christians. They have never really been around non-Christians,and they have never had any of their views challenged philosophically or theologically. The extent of their arguing has been when they are talking about other religions with other Christians. It's easy to prove how silly atheistic beliefs are when you are talking to another Christian. If a Christian is never really challenged, they wind up like the guy exercising to a Tae Bo video. They start to feel like they are strong, like they have pretty good kicks and punches, and therefore they must be a fairly deadly fighter. And then, an atheist or agnostic or Muslim or Jehovah's Witness or college professor punches them, theologically of course, right in the mouth.
It's not just heresy that will catch such a Christian off-guard, but also life in general. Tae Bo Christianity is unprepared for death, tragedy, tornadoes, infidelity, and grief. Life punches you in the mouth, and all the comfortable cliches in the world can't stop the bleeding. Some lose their faith completely because they are so devastated by the onslaught that they imagined they were prepared for.
So how do we keep ourselves from becoming Tae Bo Christians? We must actually challenge one another. If we are all a bunch of Daniel LaRusso's, then we need some Mr. Miyagi's to help us see the light. That is, wax on/wax off might really help us, but we are going to need Mr. Miyagi to throw a few punches our way so we can realize we are able to defend ourselves.
The lesson is that we, as Christians, need to challenge one another, no holds barred. We have to ask questions like these: How do you know that God is Sovereign? What does it mean for man to be depraved? How can you know that there is a God? What makes you so sure that Jesus rose from the dead? How do you reconcile the theory of evolution to the Bible's teaching of creation? What happens to babies when they die? And once we have asked these questions, we must not be satisfied until they are Biblically, rationally, and soundly answered. If not, somebody out there is going to punch us in the face, and the result is not going to be very pretty. If our Kung Fu is weak, we want to know about it before we meet the crazy guy with the knife, right?
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.