“Walk on road…Walk right side, safe. Walk left side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” squish, just like grape. Understand?” – Mr. Miyagi – The Karate Kid Part 1
“…These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:14-22
Mr. Miyagi has a way of cutting straight to the heart of Daniel’s rebellious nature. He teaches that the only way Daniel will ever learn karate is to put aside his preconcieved notions of what it looks like to learn karate. “Wax-on, wax-off” becomes an invaluable lesson in humility, service, and (to Daniel’s surprise) karate! And he begins his lesson in much the same way as this verse from Revelation. If he decides to not do karate, then Mr. Miyagi knows where he stands. He can pursue Daniel or leave him be. There is no question of “do you want to learn?” If he decides to do karate, then Mr. Miyagi can teach him. Anything in between, and no one benefits!
In the same way, God can use our rebellion to draw us to Him. We can decide to “do karate, no” and God will allow us to continue down that path, being beaten up by the Cobra Kai, so to speak. In the end, this path leads back to the understanding that what we need more than anything is God’s help. As Charles Spurgeon said, “If we think we can do anything of ourselves, all we shall get from God is the opportunity to try.” If we choose to “do karate, yes” then we put our rebellion on the back burner. We follow the unorthodox, uncomfortable, and downright strange ways that God teaches us how to be His kids. We wax the car. We sand the deck. We paint the fence. We put ourselves last. We let go of our ego. We empty ourselves to make room for God. But when we “do karate, guess so” then we are fooling ourselves.
God does not want dabblers. He is not interested in our left-overs. He does not want 10% of our money, or our talent, or our time. He wants it all! In truth it was never ours to begin with. We only have what He gives us to take care of. A lukewarm, take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward God is useless. We think, “I’m a decent person. I don’t cheat on my taxes. I’ve never killed anyone.” Or even, “I’m okay…I believe in God.” But God tells us, “even the demons believe and tremble.” If all we can say is that we believe that there is a God, and that we are decent enough to refrain from murder, and we are satisfied with that, then what good are we? C.S. Lewis says that we are like a child who is satisfied to make mud pies in the rain because we cannot understand what is meant by a holiday at sea.
We are far too easily satisfied, and far too easily pleased. God wants us to have abundance beyond money, and things, and sex, and drugs. He even wants us to have abundance beyond religion. Settling for any of these things make us lukewarm. Even, as Scott Stewart says, “making good things into ultimate things” is lukewarm. We have to realize that our “wealth” is “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” God wants us to give up what we think of as our wealth in exchange for something that is beyond our wildest imagination. Do not settle for walking in the middle of the road and getting squished like a grape!
“A mere form of religion does upon some accounts bring a man under a heavier sentence than if he were openly profane and irreligious. He that makes a show of religion flatters God, but all the while he acts and designs against him; whereas the profane man deals plainly, and tho’ he be a monstrous and unnatural rebel, yet he is a fair and open enemy. And the kisses of a false friend are more hateful than the wounds of an open enemy.” -John Tillotson (1630-1694), Sermons