Don’t Fight The Shredder Alone: A Case For Community and Theology in Strange Places

All truth is God’s truth, and life lessons can sometimes come in strange places. I have recently been introducing my children to the old cartoons of my childhood. Of particular interest to my daughter are The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I always loved the Turtles as a kid, but in watching them again at this age I have found a few particular cases where good life lessons come out. I specifically appreciated Master Splinter’s emphasis to the Turtles that they never fight the Shredder alone! I think I can learn something there and so can you…even if we aren’t mutated heroes in a half-shell.

The issue with the Turtles is that alone the Shredder was a more skilled ninja than any one of them and could easily defeat them. In a number of episodes we see where he escapes from and/or often seriously injures one of our heroes. But together the Shredder was no match for the combined skill of the green machine. So, over the course of the series, it is an understood rule: you don’t fight the Shredder alone.

Now, hopefully you and I aren’t doing battle with ninja warriors bent on taking over New York City and eventually the universe, but we too have an enemy that we must face off against. From the pages of Scripture we learn that our foe is a deadly one and one of great power. Jude tells us that not even the archangel Michael dared to challenge Satan in his own might (Jude 1:9). For us this means that when it comes to facing off against the spiritual forces of darkness we dare not do it alone. We must band together to hold one another up. The Scriptures testify to our spiritual strength in numbers (Ephesians 4:15-16). As we encounter difficulty, temptation, and even are led astray the community draws us back and lifts us up.

Most of all, however, what we need is to turn to our Master, one greater even than Master Splinter. It is to the person of Jesus that we turn for aid in battling our foe. He has already defeated him (Genesis 3:15; Colossians 2:13-15; Hebrews 2:14) and He will defeat him fully in your life too (Romans 16:20). We turn to Jesus because he has already defeated our enemy and he imparts to us the Holy Spirit who will help us to kill sin and resist our foe (Romans 8:13). The principle which rang true for Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, then, rings true for us too: don’t fight the Shredder alone!

Community is extremely important for the Christian, and you should never forget that. Ultimately you must depend on Jesus. But remember too, sometimes theology comes from strange places…so keep your eyes peeled.

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