A Karate Kid Devotional: Living a Changed Life

Britt MooneyBy Britt Mooney11 Minutes

Devotional #11: The Importance of Vulnerability

Daniel comes in one night to talk to Miyagi, but the old man is drunk. In the scene, Daniel learns that Miyagi served in World War II while his pregnant wife was in a Japanese internment camp in the US. Miyagi’s wife and child tragically died during childbirth in the internment camp.

Relationship goes both ways. When we commit to a life of discipleship with Christ and others, we grow closer and learn more about the people we walk with.

The more we walk with God, the more we learn about him. He shares more and more of his heart with us, what he cares about. That is part of being his follower. It isn’t simply God downloading information. It’s a relationship. (2 Peter 3:18)

Jesus would teach the crowd, often in parables that hid the truth a bit. Then he would pull the disciples aside and share deeper truths with them (Matthew 20:17). The night before his death, his words were intimate, loving, and filled with appreciation for the amazing relationship he had with them (John 14-17).

It doesn’t only happen between us and God, though. When we commit to discipling others or being discipled, the model is relational, life on life, and within that model we grow closer and closer to others. The people I’ve been in discipleship relationships with are more than acquaintances or friends, they are family.

This happened in the New Testament. A whole new genealogy happens. Before Jesus, it was physical – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. After Jesus, the New Testament traces through discipleship – Jesus, Peter, Barnabas, Paul, Timothy, and further to you and me today.

Paul called Timothy his son (1 Timothy 1:2). Not because they were physically related but because of the Kingdom family and time spent with each other.

Vulnerability is key to this. We can’t hide our weaknesses or emotions from those we share life with, not in the Jesus training model. As much as it can be difficult, we encourage, support, and challenge each other through the most difficult times of life.

Through being a church planter and working with coffee, I know many other pastors. Most pastors don’t have friends that they can be honest and share their issues with. They play a religious part and end up feeling alone. This isn’t the design, of course, and leads to further problems of burnout and more.

We need each other. The only “problem” with the Garden of Eden was that Adam didn’t have a partner (Genesis 2:18). Hebrews tells us to encourage each other every day to guard against unbelief (Hebrews 3:13). The explosion of the church in the first couple chapters of Acts was marked by constant eating and fellowshipping together (Acts 2:41-47).

The result? A new family. Miyagi needed Daniel, too. He had lost a son and now has one. Daniel’s father was absent and now has Miyagi.

After he gets the car from Miyagi, an enormous gesture of generosity, like a father would give to his son on his 16th birthday, Daniel turns to him and delivers one of the best lines of the movie.

“You’re the best friend I ever had.”

It took moving to a new state, getting it wrong at a new school, committing to training, taking personal responsibility, and working through relationship, but look at the reward. A best friend.

God called Abraham friend (Genesis 18:1-8, James 2:23), but that was after years of walking together. He wants to call us friend, too. In addition, God wants to give us a new family, spiritual best friends in this life, to support us through the best and worst of times.

Father, thank you for being my friend and walking with me. Thank you for bringing others into my life that support and encourage me on the journey of faith. Help me to grow closer to you and others, to commit to being real, authentic, and vulnerable with you and the spiritual family you’ve brought into my life. Amen.

Devotional #12: Living a Changed Life

Daniel is given the car, and Miyagi talks to him about what’s important in life, giving Daniel a picture of Allie, the girl.

Allie was the romantic interest and the original point of conflict with Johnny. She likes Daniel and agrees to go out with him, but Daniel feels insecurity due to his lack of money. There is a break in their burgeoning relationship.

Karate is about the whole life, so Miyagi not only gives Daniel a car but then shows him what a person of character does with that car. He would go and repair a broken relationship.

At some point, we have to put what we’ve learned into practice. Christianity isn’t an intellectual exercise where we repeat the right answers. It’s about living the right answers. Ownership in the Kingdom comes with wisdom. God doesn’t give us ownership so we feel rich but to continue on the mission of redemption. That means repairing broken relationships, encouraging others, doing what is good and right.

This is how we go from faith to faith and grace to grace (Romans 1:17, 1 John 1:16). We use what God gives us and invest it further into the Kingdom. Like the servants with the talents, the Master doesn’t give us amazing wealth for ourselves only. He wants us to use it for the profit of the Kingdom. In fact, to keep it for ourselves, or to hide it, means we don’t understand what it’s for. That’s an evil thing. For those that obey and invest, guess what? More ownership! (Luke 19:12-27)

Father, thank you for continuing to give wisdom and ownership for the good of others. Help me to take what you’ve given and use it to bless others, knowing the treasure you want to share with me is bigger than I realize if I’ll only be generous. Amen.

Devotional #13: The Fight Is Real

The tournament is the climax of the movie. Here is where it all comes together. Daniel is entered into the tournament and begins to go against other opponents one by one until he gets to the championship in the finals.

Along the way, three things happen. First, Daniel gets injured. He gets hit, and one opponent makes a dirty play.

Second, the real enemy is revealed for who he is. John Kreese, the master of the dojo, tells one of his students to make the dirty play. Then, when Johnny begins to lose in the finals, Kreese tells him to “sweep the leg.” He doesn’t believe in Johnny and tells him to cheat.

Third, Daniel is better than he thinks he is. Although just a beginner, the simple and correct way of Miyagi has served him well. He is good enough to hold his own and be a champion.

Remember, discipleship and training in faith only makes sense if the spiritual battle is real. And it is real. When we enter the battle, however, we can be sure of the same three things.

First, we will get wounded. It will hurt when we are rejected or people betray us or we see tragic things happen to the ones we love. We live in a broken world, and that brokenness will be on display. It will break our hearts.

Second, the Devil will be at work behind it all. He will try to disrupt our lives, our families, our churches, our marriages. He will lie and tempt and do all he can to get us off the mission of God and quit on faith.

However, third and most important, what is within us will be revealed, as well. If we will not quit, the power of the Spirit and the love of the Father will carry us through all the trials and battles, and we will witness the miracles of God in our story.

Jesus promised that we would have trouble in this broken world. He followed that with another call – don’t give up. He’s already overcome the world. (John 6:33)

The fight is real. But the victory has already been won. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

It’s done. Now we walk in the finished work of Christ.

Father, thank you for walking with me through the battles and trials of life that are sure to come. Help me to cling to you and your finished, victorious work in the hard times and trust in the miracles yet to come. Amen.