By Randy Kosloski
When I was 8 years old I really wanted to be a ninja. I had no desire to go through any of the work required to master the art of ninjitsu, so instead I decided I would just tell everyone that I was a ninja. I became an expert mimicking the moves I saw in movies, making crazy sounds and talking enough talk to convince my friends that I was a ninja. Amazingly they accepted it. Since most of them knew me since I started walking, I’m not sure that they actually believed that the same child, somehow when they weren’t looking, trained to become a ninja master; nonetheless, they humored me.
Time passed and I lost my affinity for ninjas, but I found that it wasn’t a simple matter of turning my back on a childhood fantasy. The ninja within was refusing to be ignored! The imposter in me kept kicking his way out even after I wanted to be honest with my friends and just be me. I suppose that I feared my friends would not accept me for who I was any longer. Because the ninja was more interesting, faster and stronger, I felt the need to maintain the image. And thus the battle began.
Much like the battle between a geeky, 8-year-old boy and a ninja from the dark side shows, a battle between spirit and flesh affects us all. James 1:14 talks about people being, “dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.” All people, Christian or not, often do not do the good they want to do (Romans 7:19).
Henry possessed a similar dark ninja within. For him it was a more of a macho-man. Father to a young boy, he was a rich, shrewd businessman, as well as a womanizer. He desperately wanted to do right by his son and his wife, but it seemed that no matter what he did, he could not shake this macho-man image.
He grew up under a renowned genius, but uncommitted father, which left Henry to figure out manhood all by himself. Heavily influenced by culture, Henry created a macho-man, ninja-type image for himself. He probably tried to use this persona to impress his father and draw closer to him. When it did not work, he tried even harder to be Mr. Macho Man. By the time he wanted to rid himself of this idiotic image, Macho Man was well-entrenched and would not be ignored.
In the wake, Macho Man left behind broken marriages, a struggling son, numerous angry women, outstanding bills, and left Henry in a state of constant insecurity. Barely treading water when he came to see me, Henry needed me to get him through the next two months without doing anything stupid. Fortunately, we succeeded.
The flesh that we battle against can have various forms in any one person. It is likely that Henry had many ninjas, but Macho Man was his primary enemy.
I often wished I could have externalized Macho Man for Henry. If I could have metaphorically pulled Macho Man out of Henry, I could have said to Henry, “Look at what Macho Man is making you do. Your marriages are destroyed. Your son is hurting; his example is broken. Many women’s lives are destroyed… Get rid of Macho Man!” But just as I feared what I might be without my dark ninja, Henry also depended on Macho Man for self-identity and for his concept of masculinity. With nothing to replace MM, he was lost. The good news of the gospel of Christ, however, is that there is a replacement for dark ninja, Macho Man, etc.
Bruxy Cavey is a teaching pastor at a church called The Meeting House in Oakville, Ontario (his podcasts are free on iTunes and are worth a listen). In a pod-cast series called “License to Sin,” he talks about this battle between our flesh and our spirit. Bruxy explains how the good in us (spirit) and the dark ninja (flesh) are not equals. If we follow Christ, our spirit is much more powerful than any ninja. Our ability to access that power may wax and wane, but the potential is huge. He goes on to explain that we learn to better access that power by learning to commune with God the Father through Jesus the Son.
My ninja persona eventually slipped away and I cannot say that I ever missed it. God met me where I was as a boy. Despite my lies and deceit, He helped me find talents and friends that allowed me to shape a sense of self-identity which was closer to reality. But the ninja is stealth-like warrior, so I had to be on my guard for several years afterward to be sure that it did not creep back into my life again. And I still occasionally ask myself if the spirit is the real me and not the ninja. My answer is, “God created mankind in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). And that I know of, God doesn’t swing nun chucks and creep around in a black jumpsuit and a ski mask!