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Extremely Violent and Yet...

I recently saw John Wick's "Chapter IV" as part of a group exercise. The general purpose of the exercise is to watch popular secular films, extract theological themes or imagery, and reaffirm our understanding that the presence of God is ever-present, especially in scenarios where most might believe that there is no way to find hope or the presence of the living God.

This ecumenical group is full of friendship, support, and a desire to serve God in this broken world. The purpose of the group exercise is to challenge the imagination of young group pastors, sharpen their interpretive tools, and help each other with what is current in the world. This group considers social trends, video games, leadership books, existing movies and tv shows, sports, and politics.

Anyhow, in case you know nothing about the John Wick movie franchise. Let me say that "John Wick" is what you could call an anti-hero—a fictional character in a violent world full of conspiracy theories and secret organizations that rule the world.

John Wick is the deadliest assassin who wishes to walk from a life of violence, yet circumstances and his thirst for vengeance continue to pull him under a never-ending downward spiral. It gets us to remember the famous words of our Lord Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:52 that say, "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword." This is a well-known proverb that means that those who resort to violence to solve problems will inevitably face the same level of violence and ultimately suffer the same fate as those they fought against. It is a warning against using force and a call for peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Now, before you run to watch this movie, know this. This movie is extremely violent.

I am not writing this to praise or encourage you to watch this movie but to show you that God has the power to reach even the dark corners of the imagination. For example: In the film, there is a line where a so-called trusted friend of Mr. Wick asks him something like, "Do you ever wish you could go back to the good life?" to what Mr. Wick responds, "You and I left the good life a long time ago." --- Which is a sad and untrue fact for us as Christians. For us, no matter what mistakes we make or how bad things get, we can always come back to Christ when we repent and do no more evil, and surrender ourselves to the will of the Father. Christ's arms are always open to a humble, repentant mind and heart and ready to welcome us home while still holding us accountable, and we deal with the consequences of our actions. This movie, if nothing else, reminded me of:

The wisdom of this world leads us to self-destruction. The Bible cautions us against relying solely on human understanding and knowledge. 1 Corinthians 1:19-20 says, "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

Stop listening to your Echo Chamber only; seek the wisdom of the Lord. The Bible teaches that higher, eternal wisdom comes from God. Proverbs 2:6 states, "For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." This wisdom is not self-serving but instead seeks the good of others.

Leaning on our strengths or methods of conflict resolution leaves us wanting. When we rely on the wisdom of this world, we often end up pursuing our selfish desires and goals, which can lead to destruction. The Bible cautions us against this in Ecclesiastes 1:18, "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." Therefore, as Christians, we should seek to align ourselves with God's wisdom and seek His guidance in all things. We will find true peace, joy, and fulfillment as we do so.

Remember, "Vengeance is mine, and I will repay," says the Lord. And: If your enemy is hungry, buy him lunch! Win him over with kindness. Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience, and God will reward you with favor." Romans 12: 19-21.

You must stand up for what you believe in but don't seek violence, try to avoid it at all costs. If you do, violence will inflict everlasting conflict in your family. Be loyal to everyone you come in contact with, not because they are loyal, but because you know the value of loyalty, and remember there is no point to friendship if only you are a friend when it is convenient. That's about what Koji Shimazu says.

Improvise, adapt and yet calculate everything that you do. After all, how you do anything is how you do everything. Saying "no" can be difficult for some people, especially when they want to please others or be seen as capable. However, it is essential to understand that saying "no" can be necessary for maintaining boundaries, managing stress, and prioritizing one's well-being.

Additionally, understanding one's abilities and limitations is crucial in making informed decisions and setting realistic goals. It is okay to acknowledge one's strengths and weaknesses and to ask for help or delegate tasks when needed.

Remember that saying "no" and recognizing one's limitations are signs of strength and self-awareness. It is important to prioritize self-care and not overextend oneself, as this can lead to burnout and negatively impact overall productivity and well-being. Practice good situational awareness, and reload when you want to, not when you must.

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