Bruce Lee Christians

Bruce Lee, martial arts expert, actor and of course Christian Leader. Ok he may never have come out as and said he was a Christian nor did he say many Christian things, but I believe he may have delivered one of the most powerful lessons for the Church since Jesus and Paul made the same point in less cool Yoda/Confucious/Buddah-like ways. Check it out…

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

In 1 Corintians 9:19-23 Paul says while maintaining his standards he “became all things to all men” so that he could experience what they experience and meet them where they are at to help bring the into a relationship with Christ. Not only did Paul talk about being water, he lived it.

Take a look at Acts 17:1-3 and 10-12. Paul met with lots of Jews in the Synagogues. He talked to them about the Torah, the prophets and the Law. This was an area of comfort and strength for him coming from a conservative and orthodox Jewish background. This is the approach of most of our churches today. We assume people are very similar to us and believe very similar to us and talk to them accordingly. If they are too different we speak out against them or ignore them. And this is all totally acceptable in a homogenous enviornment according to Paul. But take a look later in the chapter…

In Acts 17:17-34 Paul does an about face. He is no longer in his comfort zone. The idols that he told the Jews were disgusting are everywhere. There are tourists, intellectuals and everyday citizens. So what does he do? Boom! Paul suddenly starts befriending important community leaders, getting speaking opportunities in potentially hostile enviornments, talking to people on the streets, etc. He tells people at public gatherings he was fascinated by their shrines (as oppose to disgusted by their idols).

Now here is the kicker–Most of our communities look a lot more like Athens, than Jerusalem. The days of Christendom are long gone. If you want great art, great music, great poety, theater or film, none of these are considered strongholds of the Church. Even social justice and advocacy problems are now largely handled by corporations and world governments. Just the other night American Idol raised millions of dollars to fund all sorts of amazing programs that history recognizes as the traditional role of the Church. Stats show traditional Christian values only seriously influence around 30% of the population and even less are consistent in applying them in their lives.

Our world is not Paul’s world in Jerusalem, it is Paul’s world in Athens. Paul and Bruce Lee agree that we need to change to be effective.

Jesus too seemed to have believed in this concept. He didn’t speak much on it but throughout his ministry one can see the application. He healed those who needed healing. He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. He hung out in the synagogues as well and taught from the torah. When speaking to the religious he spoke “religiously” but otherwise he was a day labororer getting to know people and sharing with them the answers he had regarding Life. With the Samaritan woman at the well he made apt comparisons between their belief systems and showed an understanding of what she believed. And he talked about meeting tangible needs of people who you come into contact with.

It seems like this paradigm for ministry that may seem somewhat new and radical has its roots in ancient scripture. Paul and Jesus and Bruce Less all agree, how can I not?

So, be water my friend.