The other night in our karate class, we started out the second class (the intermediate class) with warm-ups. These warm-ups consisted of stretches and a variety of kicks. In fact, this is how just about every class starts. In fact, I would say 99% of classes start this way. Those 99% of classes include doing the three first stances and the very first kicks and punches that you ever learn in karate. We do those kicks, stances, and punches over and over. In fact, I would think that by now I have done them a couple thousand times.
Some may think that doing these things so much, even at the intermediate level, is a waste of time. We have learned them, we should move on. The thing is that the people at the top of the class do the same exact things. After they’ve been doing karate for years, they’re still doing the very first things that they learned—over and over and over. Trust me, they’re not doing them because they’re easy, although to some, it may be by now.
The truth is that these simple things are not a waste of time. On the contrary, they are the most important things. Without these simple things being perfected (or pretty close), everything that comes after them can end up being wrong.
We’re told the exact same thing in the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, ”Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
The Apostle Paul encouraged us to have our foundation strong in Christ: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).”
Karate is so nice because there are clear distinctions in your growth. With any martial art, you can tell how much someone knows (within that art), by the belt that they wear. If someone has a white belt, you wouldn’t expect them to know some complicated flying somersault flip kick. I just made that up, by the way, but it’d be cool to see.
When it comes to our faith, there isn’t a clear distinction like there is in karate with a belt system. When we go to church, we’re sitting in a room of people that range from immature babies in Christ to (possible) spiritual giants. We don’t really know for sure what level everyone is on. We can get a sense of it because we can tell by their fruits. But even that can sometimes be misleading when we don’t really know how to be a real fruit inspector.
However, to get from that immature baby to that spiritual giant, it doesn’t take a flying somersault flip kick. It takes the same stance and the same kick you first learned, with a sprinkling of some more advanced techniques. It takes the basics of faith, with a little more deep revelation. 1 Peter 2:2 says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” God is telling us that we don’t necessarily grow from deep revelation. Oh yes, that helps. But what really helps us grow is the pure milk of the Word. It’s the basics of faith—the foundational things—that will help us grow. The milk of the Word will take us to the meat of the Word.
How does this happen? Is it a one-time thing, just something that you do for a little while, or is it a continual thing? You guessed it. Just like those basic karate kicks and stances being done over and over and over, it’s the repetitive use and learning of our faith. God showed us this by telling Israel to continually give their children the Word.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Even after you know it, even after you’re walking in it – you still need to be reminded of it.
For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. – 2 Peter 1:12
Whenever your Pastor gets up to preach on the same exact topic he’s preached a thousand times before, just remember that he’s following the Word. Every karate class we start out doing the same kicks and the same stances; it’s not because we don’t know them. It’s because that foundation is what makes the rest of what we learn stronger and better, just like in our faith. We always need to be reminded of the basics, no matter how much we know, or think we know them.