Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gentleness

I’ve been thinking about this gentleness thing a lot. I especially like the antithesis that gentleness cannot exist with great power. Two Saturdays ago my friend Brad took his black belt test in the World Tang Soo Do Association. A couple days before that, we had been talking about what this test meant, how long he had been studying this particular martial art, and how confident he was that he could pass.

The conversation weaved around, but a couple things stood out to me. If he does acquire his black belt in Tang Soo Do, he will be open to a new world of great “perks” of being a black belt. He explained to me that a certain level of respect comes with earning a black belt, but there is also a whole new world of the martial arts open to him when he does pass. All of the studying, all of the practicing and skill-building leading up to this point, he explained, basically just consisted of the basics. After achieving the rank of black belt, that’s when the masters assume you know the basics, and you can start getting into the really cool stuff.

That idea somewhat surprised me. I knew that there were varying degrees of black belts in many martial arts, but I never really considered a black belt as anything other than a pinnacle
that one strove for-- certainly not a beginning.

The other thing that really spoke to me is that when Brad does earn his black belt, there is a certain standard that he’ll be held to. I don’t think he’ll actually have to register any of his body parts as lethal weapons, but I’m sure that Brad has the power to do some serious damage, if not cause fatalities, with the skills that he has gained. But as Uncle Ben in Spider-Man said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” If someone attacked Brad in hand to hand combat, unless his life was in danger, he really shouldn’t cause a fatality, even though he has the full POWER to do so. He needs, to some degree, practice restraint.

That’s what we need to learn as Christians. Some of us need to learn that we DO have power... we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us! There’s nothing more powerful than that. But once we realize that, accept that, and begin to wield that power, we need to immediately learn to be gentle with it. Too often, we fall into what Dan Merchant, author and documentarian of “Lord Save from Your Followers,” calls the “gospel of being right.” We have the Spirit inside of us, there’s just some way we know that Jesus is who he says he was.. and we want to TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!!!

It’s a fantastic calling, but it’s one that needs to be done responsibly. As you go throughout your week, become emboldened by the power that lives inside of you, but at the same time, harness that power and ask Jesus for help in directing it in a way that will be used to glorify Him, not to tick other people off!