Well, it finally happened, I got COVID. During a heat wave in August, I am well ….. sick! I now understand what the phrase ‘fellowship of His suffering’ means.
So on my way to the Futon, I randomly grabbed one of my martial arts books off our bookcase. Just something to read and get my mind off the ugh…
I have found it strange, that I have had very few prophetic words concerning direction during this pandemic, but I got a word for the church while reading this ‘random’ martial arts book.
The book by Richard Kim, called ‘The Weaponless Warriors,’ is a series of stories about an Okinawan Karate master from the past. Reading a book, while your eyes feel like they are running with what appears to be gorilla glue, is not fun. But I randomly read one chapter and could not see past the goo to read anymore.
I initially thought this would be a good story to share with my karate class. Then I felt like God saying, how about sharing it with my people?
I’ll share the story, from approximately 300 years ago, that took place on the Japanese island of Okinawa, involving a famous karate teacher called ‘Karate Sakugawa’.
He had three main students, who were known as the “Inseparable Three Musketeers”:
- Okuda, a specialist, was called the ‘one punch knockout artist.’ He was referred to as the ‘iron fist’ by others, and some said he could kill a bull with one punch.
- Makabe was the second specialist. He was smaller, but lightning fast, clever, elusive and very difficult to hit. He was called the blind man for his movements.
- Matsumoto was the third member. He was a general practitioner of Karate. He had no flash, no show, no gimmicks and was not known for any special skill, and knew just basic karate.
When these three would go to a nearby town to give a demonstration, the two specialists would amaze and entertain the people with their moves.
When people asked what Matsumoto did, the other two would laugh and say, “Oh, him, he is a good teacher, but nothing special.”
One day, a Chinese cargo ship anchored in the nearby Naha Harbor. The large, imposing captain, Oshima, had a reputation as an unbeaten fighter, who was always on the lookout for his next mark.
The town was in a state of fear because of this brute’s arrival. After numerous complaints and beaten opponents, word spread to Karate Sakugawa.
Finally, the three musketeers thought it was time to put things right and caught up with this monster.
In the first duel, Okuda charged the big fighter with his famous punch, but could not hit the man. Once winded, the sea captain quickly finished off Okuda.
The next day, it was ‘Blind man’ Makabe’s turn for justice. At first, the captain could not land blows because of Makabe’s quickness, but once he tired, Oshima took Makabe to the ground and the fight was over.
At this point, the townspeople had all but given up hope. If the two flashy specialists lost, there would be no hope with the “boring teacher, who did nothing special.”
Now on the surface, Matsumoto did not seem like the typical flashy hero. All he did was train in the basics of karate until he mastered them all.
He was a general practitioner, who had perfected all the basic moves.
On the third day, Matsumoto met the dreaded sea captain as agreed. For several minutes, they silently fought.
Oshima would later say that he soon realized this opponent was not an easy-to-beat specialist, but a real master of all aspects of karate, defense, counter and attack.
Soon Matsumoto saw his chance and took this bully to the ground. Oshima gave up. He was beaten.
The hero, who was the “oh, him, he’s a good teacher, and nothing special,’ succeeded because he understood the importance of mastering the basics.
To me, there were a number of parallels to our time in this story, too many, to ignore.
This Okinawan port was like a microcosm of our day. A threat arrived, and it was not looked at in a logical, unified way.
Some were in mortal fear. Others were looking for someone to step up and deal with him.
Every karate club has their specialist, who seem to abound during the sunny times, as the clubs seem more concerned about their reputation and pride at times.
Even society has different experts who are expected to solve society’s problems, from public safety to the economy.
I am not against experts either in the martial arts or the church. But I am against a steady diet of ‘special’ programs or quick entertainment.
The five-fold ministry, apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, contains specialists, but their job is to build up, feed the church and bring it to maturity (Ephesians 4:9-16).
If we are at war, a wise General would recommend less leave, fewer brass bands and back-to-basics training.
If the church does the same thing, living the fundamental principles of our faith in such a way, that no matter what the world throws at us, we will not move off our foundation.
The Church can beat this ‘Giant’ by the old-fashioned discipline of being focussed on Jesus. With less party and more handy, we win!
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25 NKJV)