The other day I had a phone call from a distressed mum. 'My seven year-old son is wanting to join in the Judo class at school. Everyone else is doing it and he will be so upset if I stop him. The teachers say that it is just good exercise.'
Oh how hard it is for Christian parents to know where to draw the line in giving godly boundaries to their children. We don't want to spoil their fun but we do want to keep them from harm. The important thing is that parents should be able make their decisions with sufficient understanding, as well as prayerfully seeking God's direction. I tried to give this mum a little understanding of this particular issue.
I sent her a typical quote describing the basis of Judo as seen by one non-Christian practitioner and commentator: "In the course of development, there was once a period when Judo was simply an art to fell down the opponent and in another period more importance was attached to physical culture. But the purpose is to be true to the standard of human life and its significance so rich that no simple words can express its implication. In other words, there is a union of body and soul, containing spiritual and physical factors put together."
The word Judo actually means the way of submission. It comes from roots in the martial art of Jujitsu, an ancient Samurai combat technique without weapons. These techniques almost always followed philosophical as well as practical paths of training. If there is a philosophical or spiritual aspect to the foundation of any activity in which we are invited to join, it is important that we take time to consider that it is truly safe.
Jesus knows our spiritual needs and declares Himself to be the best spiritual path to follow. In fact He says that He is the only way both to the Father and to the abundant spiritual life which He desires for each of God's children. In His mercy, God will look for us even on a wrong spiritual path which we have taken, but He will only ever point us to the one true path that is Jesus.
Prayer: Oh Father, give us the wisdom to make right choices for ourselves, and for those for whom we are responsible, so that we do not stray too far off the safe path of our spiritual journey with You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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