Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bruce Lee and Jesus Christ: Different Teachers with a Similar Lesson

I recently ran across this graphic:
As strange as it may seem, my immediate first thought was a quote by Bruce Lee from the movie "Enter The Dragon"

{Before I go too far, I should make it clear that this is in no way a religious argument. It is, rather, a philosophical comparison. So, when I say the Bible is just a book, it's not meant as a theological position, nor to step on the toes of my Christian friends concerning it being the Word of God.}

 In the scene I'm referencing, Bruce is teaching a student about martial art technique - about how it is more than just the physical mastery of movement. He says: "It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon." (The student looks at his finger and Bruce slaps the top of his head to get his attention) "Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory."
I think Bruce was saying that martial art, at its core, is more than its technique - more than the sum of its parts. Yes, one must master technique (and in doing so, master one's self), but not because that's all there is. Instead, we master technique because it's a necessary step before going beyond technique - to freedom.

 Likewise, the Christian life is more than reading the Bible and memorizing verses. The Bible is a guide. The book itself cannot save anyone. Only by delving deeply into it - not in a legalistic way, purely for the sake of knowledge - but in a sincere striving to understand what it teaches and incorporate it, as humbly as possible, into our lives.

 When we study the Bible passionately, and with a pure heart, we are mastering technique, if you will. In martial art, as one advances through mastery, it begins to show in every aspect of one's life. The same is true with studying the Bible. As we learn and begin to understand (in our hearts, as opposed to in our heads), we begin to recognize to Whom it points and we begin to bear fruit.

 Let's broaden the context of the comparison beyond a mere soundbite. If we go back a minute or two in the film, we see Bruce instructing the student in the nuances of a relatively simple kick. The student has pretty much mastered the physical movement of the kick, but he executes it mechanically - without any feeling. He's going through the motions and Bruce brings this to his attention.

 "What was that?" He asks. "An exhibition? We need emotional content. Try again."

 The kid gets mad and throws the kick again.

 Bruce scolds him. "I said emotional content. Not anger. Now try again. With meaning."

 He's trying to instill in the student the idea that martial art is meant to be a spiritual quest as much as a physical one. What he's saying, in essence, is to devote your whole self to your effort, for then there will be spiritual growth.

 The kid throws the kick a third time, and Bruce is happy with what he sees. But the lesson isn't over yet.

 "How did that feel?" He asks. "Let me think," the student replies.

 Another slap to the top of the head: "Don't think. Feel." Don't make it all head knowledge. Make it part of you.

 Similarly, in chapter 5 of the book of John, the Jewish leaders are angry with Jesus for, in their view, breaking the rules of the Sabbath. These leaders knew the Scripture and the Law inside and out - but it was pretty much all head knowledge. They hadn't incorporated the true meaning into their hearts. They were going through the motions, and Jesus was about to point that out. The narrative begins to unfold around verse 15 of the fifth chapter of John, and culminates in verse 39, with Jesus telling them: "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me!"
Sound familiar? "It (technique/Scripture) is like a finger pointing (to the moon/to Jesus). Don't concentrate (focus solely) on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory. _________________________________________________

"The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering."
~Bruce Lee

 "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me, you will find it."
 ~Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:19)

 "Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."
~Bruce Lee

 "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
~Jesus Christ (John 8:31-32)

 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." {Note: a lamp does us no good if we look directly at it. The usefulness of the lamp is to see the path it's illuminating.}
 ~Psalm 119:105

 "Some seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
 ~Jesus Christ (Mark 4:5-8)

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