God, The Ultimate Judo Master

Aug 28, 2019 -- Posted by : RyanHaley

The human brain is said to be a pattern-seeking organism. And I believe that it is human nature to make meaning or sense out of our lives and experiences. While these are probably good things for the most part, I think this can also lead us astray at times. I think this is especially true in relation to how we view God in light of our circumstances. At some point, we all experience tragedy, loss, or disaster of some kind. Many times we see amazingly good things come out of those tragedies and therefore conclude God must have planned and orchestrated them.

As a personal example, I rededicated my life to Jesus and turned my life around after I crashed a helicopter when I was in the Navy. That experience served as a loud and critically important wakeup call for me. In so many different and amazing ways, my life has gotten so much better since then. You could say that helicopter crash was “a blessing in disguise”, and in most ways I believe it was. But does that mean that God caused me to crash that helicopter because of all the good that’s come from it? Was that, in fact, His original plan?

I’d like to suggest that God is so masterful at turning tragedy into blessing and evil into good that we many times incorrectly conclude the tragedy or the evil was actually caused by Him as part of His original plan. He can so seamlessly reroute our path, turn things around, and make beauty out of ashes that it’s hard to see that what happened wasn’t actually His plan all along.

Perhaps the cross is the most stunning example of this. I know that may seem heretical, but think about it. God’s original plan was for us as human beings to experience unbroken fellowship, communion, and “garden living” in Eden; with no need or desire to eat from the tree of knowledge, but to always be eating from the tree of life. Since Adam and Eve chose otherwise, it became necessary for Jesus to redeem us from the bondage and death of sin that resulted from that decision.

The Father’s willingness to give up His Beloved Son for us, and Jesus’ incredible sacrifice to endure what He did for us is probably the most powerful and beautiful expression of love the world has or will ever see. Because God was able to use the enemy’s ultimate plan for evil by displaying both His love as a Father and the love of Christ for all humanity in such a deep and sacrificial way, it would be easy to conclude that it was always God‘s plan for Jesus to go to the cross. But is it possible this is the ultimate example of God turning lemons into lemonade?

You may counter my line of thinking by correctly pointing out that Jesus is the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) and could therefore have a viable argument that this proves the cross was indeed always God’s plan from the beginning. However, God lives outside of time and space. It is hard for our finite human minds to comprehend things that are infinite, such as not being bound by time or space. In his infinite love, foreknowledge, and wisdom He was somehow still able to make provision for our need for a Savior before the need was even realized. But I don’t think that should lead us to the conclusion that it was always God's highest and best plan to have Jesus suffer a humiliating and agonizing death to set us free from our bondage to sin and death.

Just because sometimes a bone that’s broken can grow back stronger, how many of you as parents would intentionally break your children’s arm or leg with the rationale that “I know it’ll be painful now, but this will all work out better in the end“? That would probably get you referred to child protective services, at a minimum. Imagine what premeditating and carrying out your child’s agonizing torture and crucifixion would get you!

In martial arts, such as judo, a well-trained combatant knows how to take the momentum and direction of their enemy's attack and actually use it to their advantage. According to Wikipedia, “The goal of the soft technique is deflecting the attacker’s force to his or her disadvantage, with the defender exerting minimal force and requiring minimal strength. With a soft technique, the defender uses the attacker's force and momentum against him or her, by leading the attack(er) in a direction to where the defender will be advantageously positioned (tai sabaki) and the attacker off balance”. I believe God used a judo master move against the devil through Jesus' crucifixion!

I find it interesting that the word “judo” means “gentle way”, especially since it’s in the context of hand to hand combat. It reminds me of what Jesus said about Himself: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11: 28-29, emphasis mine).

In the above description, the “soft technique” is said to exert “minimal force” and “require minimal strength”. This reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote: But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).

There are numerous other verses that speak of God’s ability to turn things around, but two particularly come to mind right now. Romans 8:28 says, And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Genesis 50:20 says, You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened (emphasis mine). Notice that God did not plot the evil, but He was able to turn it into something good. Said another way: Just because God makes a mean lemonade, that doesn’t mean He gave us lemons!

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