Last Saturday night I watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for the first time. I had other plans and other things to do, but I just got caught up in the story and reading the subscripts. Brian wanted me to watch the football game being played in a blizzard, but I was intrigued. The story begins when one of the warriors with mystical powers turns in his sword. Evidentially he had become discouraged after his master had been murdered. On top of that he had experienced enlightenment in a way that his master never warned him about. Enlightenment left him with a feeling of complete sadness.
The rest of the movie is about how these characters struggle with the issues of good and evil. I guess you could say that good wins out in the end, but not without evil taking several casualties of war. (Does that story sound familiar? You could summarize almost every story that way.) The story is a tragedy of sorts, and it illustrates a complete contrast with Christianity. The truth is in Christianity, no disciple will give her life, her talents, her hopes and dreams and come up disappointed, like the tragic hero of that story.
I guess you could say that Paul is a disciple that experienced enlightenment while living in his earthly body. But, this enlightenment is more than any demon could counterfeit. I Corinthians 12:3-4 describes his experience. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--was caught up to Paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. Paul's experience of enlightenment was all together different. He found that heaven was more than he could have ever dreamed. He knows that it is so mysteriously wonderful that he is not permitted to write about it in Scripture. He assures us that we will not be disappointed. In I Corinthians 13:12 he writes, Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I find the Christian life is a struggle for me. I am constantly having to say No to things my sinful nature wants to do. Often I must do the opposite of what I feel like doing. I must force myself, as I compel myself to exercise, to read or memorize or meditate on God's word. It is difficult work for me. I must fight against my sinful nature to sit quietly and listen for God's voice and His call to me. I think it is fair to compare my struggle to follow Jesus to the discipline required for a warrior with mystical powers. The Christian life is a delicate balance of self discipline and work, along with supernatural power from the Holy Spirit. One thing I am assured of and that is that I will not be disappointed in the end. My complete and total enlightenment that will come one day will be more than I could ever ask or think.
I know this for sure because my Master has proved it so. When I think of all the suffering He experienced in His life on earth, my own suffering seems pale. However, He tells us that inexpressible sorrow on the cross is not even worth comparing to the joy that would be set before Him when it is over. As the writer of Hebrews exhorts us;Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1,2)
Are you in the race? Are you discipling yourself to be prepared to fight against sin in your life? Are you getting a foretaste of true enlightenment by experiencing the presence of God in your life right here one earth? You only have one life to live, if you live it for Him, growing deeper in your faith, you will not be disappointed in the end. Your Master knows. He has told you that, He has experienced it for Himself and there's nothing more that he wants than that you know this, too.