Many people are surprised to learn that Tai Chi is a martial art form.The gentle, wave-like motion of the gestures doesn’t appear aggressive.Indeed, they are not aggressive in the manner to which we are accustomed.We typically think of fighters as trying to find an opening to attack.Tai Chi is more of a defensive style.A Tai Chi master would be unlikely the one to begin a fight.Tai Chi is about protection of one’s space, maintaining balance throughout every gesture, and utilizing the power that comes from having all the parts of your body working together in a concerted effort to focus the force of the movement.
Unfortunately, many people today are unsurprised to hear Christianity described in terms of warfare.Much of the most vocal and celebrated portion of American Christendom focuses on alleged attacks from the secular world.There is an aggressiveness about much of this that I find troubling.I don’t think that we are called to be milquetoast Christians, we have a responsibility to spread the gospel, and it is a troubling message at times.The good news of the Bible is good only insofar as you find yourself in need of salvation.We all are sinners and thus require salvation, but the accompanying message of repentance requires behavioral change.The gospel message accomplishes H. L. Mencken’s maxim for journalists: it comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. So in the culture wars, I hope that we are messengers with an offensive message, not offensive messengers.
Do people see you as armed and dangerous? Are you grounded in the traditions and teachings of the faith? Can you deliver words of challenge and words of hope that come from the scripture? It is not necessary to memorize verses to deliver the good/offensive word. It is, however, necessary to know the word of God internally. If you arm yourself with the spiritual practices of prayer, scripture reading and worship you will be prepared to be dangerous for God when the opportunity comes to share the gospel.
In fact, if you truly internalize your spiritual discipline it will become something akin to a martial art. You will be in control of the power it gives you. You will realize that the power is actually external to you and flows through you. We speak of the Holy Spirit in a similar way that martial art masters speak of chi, the life force. If you have studied a martial art perhaps you have already made this connection. The greatest martial artists are those who control themselves, not needing to prove anything by fighting. If only we could similarly master the spiritual power available to us. Perhaps then we could work with all members of the human family to change the world for the better instead of choosing sides and battling in a culture war.