by Mark Bradley
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Somewhere along the 9th century, there began a class of warriors that left an impression on history that far exceeded the boundaries of their country. Known not only for their fierceness in battle, but also their compassion and loyalty to their masters and families. They were men that held their honor above their very lives. They were men that practiced their internal code of ethics in every aspect of their lives. They were the samurai.
Due to a heavy influence from Hollywood, the ninja has been touted as the greatest warrior class in all of Japan. They have trained their bodies to a unique perfection that no mere mortal could ever hope to achieve. Their mastery of both the martial arts and weaponry leaves them silent and deadly.
History, however, paints a much different picture. The ninja were extremely skilled in their craft. They did lack one vital aspect, though. The ninja were dark warriors that followed no moral or ethical code. They often rented their services to the highest bidder, making them no better than mercenaries.
Enter the Samurai. From a very early age, these men were not only trained physically to master their skills, but they were also indoctrinated by the Bushido, or way of the warrior. They could not be hired or bought. They did not seek monetary gain from their craft, but rather lived meekly, seeking only to honor their master and family name.
There are seven tenets of the Bushido that the Samurai adhered. These principles governed every aspect of their lives, and in some cases their deaths. My purpose with our discussion today is to seek the application of these seven principles to our Christian lives. Once we get started, you’ll see it’s not that far of a trip.
(GI) Justice – It was the responsibility of the Samurai to act justly among his subordinates. He was the provider of justice for those who could not get it from corrupt magistrates. Samurai were not judges, but mediators. As Christians, we have no power to judge. We can intercede to help solve problems and help create a harmony if possible. We are to act justly with those we interact with so as to show Christ in us.
(YUU) Bravery & Courage – No matter the odds in the conflict, Samurai never hesitated to enter the fray. Whether he was ordered to go by his master or the situation called for an armed response, he rose to the occasion without thought of harm or loss. We, too, have been given a mission from our master, and we are to go out with the same fearless mindset knowing that our Lord and Savior is watching and empowering us. Be strong, and of good courage.
(JIN) Love & Compassion – What separates Samurai from most warriors is their deeds were done not out of rage or profit, but out of compassion. Now, it doesn’t seem very compassionate to slice someone with a sword, but the people you’re defending might see it that way. Samurai were also known as good fathers and husbands who loved, honored and protected their families. The first commandment given to Christians by Jesus was to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We are to act out of compassion towards others and not out of spite or tainted deeds. We are to have the other guy’s best interest in mind, because that is the best way to show them the love of God.
(REI) Respect – Although they received their fair share, Samurai were to show respect to others in all situations. This meant humbling themselves before people that outranked them in society as well as showing appropriate courtesy for everyone. They treated people as a friend until they were proven to be an enemy. Even in combat, Samurai were to show respect to their adversary. Likewise, we as Christians are to respect ourselves, those we come in contact with, and those that have authority over us. How can we say we are compassionate for the world, but show no respect to the people of the world? Doing this and not compromising our convictions is the key.
(MAKATO) Truth & Honesty – If a Samurai lied to his master, he would have been put to death immediately. These warriors were, after all, entrusted with the protection of the master’s property, possessions, name, and very life. When a Samurai spoke, you could count on what he said to be the absolute truth, no matter how difficult that truth might be. We, too, are to act in truth in our dealings with, not just people, but with God. During the early church period, a man and wife were stricken dead o the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. We may not physically die immediately, but a part of us dies every time we lie, and we are not restored until we confess the truth and rid ourselves of the sin that we are hiding with those lies.
(CHUGI) Duty & Loyalty – Once a Samurai was pledged to his master, that bond could never be broken. No amount of gold could buy him. No promise of power could persuade him. His loyalty was to his master and his duty was to serve the one that he was pledged. It didn’t matter the task, a Samurai was bound to perform his duty to his master exactly as his master commanded. We as Christians have been bought with a price, and Christ is our Master. Once we confess our need for a savior and accept the sacrifice that paid for us, we take up the yoke as servants to Him. We are bound to Him, and there is nothing that can break that bound. We are also bound by duty to serve Him, whatever the task is He has set before us.
(MEIYO) Honor – I have saved my favorite for last. If there is a core principle of the seven, this one is it. Without honor, a warrior could follow the first six and not be a Samurai. This one tenet permeated everything that a Samurai did. It is for honor that obeyed the first six parts of the Bushido. Simply put; without honor, they were nothing. And not just them, but their entire family would be shamed all the way back to their ancestors. They were raised knowing that this was a huge responsibility, and they were to uphold that responsibility, even if it meant their death. We have been given a huge responsibility, we are to uphold that responsibility with the honor of our family name. Not just the one you were born with, but the one that you were given when you became a Christian. We must act to bring honor and glory to God first and foremost, but we also must be mindful of carrying on in the line of ancestors that we possess. They have passed the torch to us that was given to them by Christ before His ascension. It’s more commonly called the Great Commission.
If you are a Christian, and by that I mean that you trusting Jesus as your only means of salvation, then you, too, have been called into the service of God. You are not your own master. You have a duty to God that must be carried out justly, bravely, lovingly, respectfully, honestly, loyally, and honorably.
Don’t be just another Christian that doesn’t want to get into the action. Show this world what motivated Christian can really do. You may have the potential to be the next Spurgen or Luther or Paul the Apostle. You could be whatever God wants for you if you just let Him be the Master of your life. Don’t be a soulless ninja. Take the stand for your God. Be a true warrior. Be a Samurai.
Mark A. Bradley
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Absolutely fascinating piece Mark and excellently presented. Well done. Just one thing I picked up in this section though, "The ninja was extremely skilled in his craft. They did lack one vital aspect, though. The ninja was a dark warrior that followed no moral ethical code. They often rented their services to the highest bidder, making them no better than a mercenary." It seemed to change from referring to the Ninja singularly, to them as a group, then back to singular again, then back to a group. In other words, it needs to be either "The Ninja were extremely skilled in their craft ..." and then follow it through that way, or leave it as "The Ninja was ..." and change the next part to, "He did lack one very vital ..." and follow it through that way. But other than that very little "singular/group" thing, this was a really outstanding piece of work. I'm so glad I took time to read it. With love, Deb