Spiritual Krav Maga — or the art of spiritual self-defense

[Draft 1 – a work in progress …]

For a while now, I’ve been sensing a trend in myown spiritual life.  When I spend time with God, I often walk away with some impressions about assertiveness, passivity, “chutzpah” — similar concepts around the theme that God wants us to take a more active role in our own lives.  So often we slip to one extreme or the other: we either ignore God entirely, pursuing our own goals and desires, trying to do everything in our own strength, or we settle into times of false piety where we place everything in God’s hands, sit back in wait-mode, and become passive observers, letting the random winds of life carry us where they will.

There is the middle ground I believe we are supposed to occupy.  Christians live in two realms simultaneously. We are flesh and blood, and we live in a material world.  And we are spirit beings, existing in a realm more receptive to divine influence — and in contact with other evil spiritual forces which oppose God and us.  This is not some intellectual or philosophical perspective; it is real life, and is so natural that most times we are hardly aware of it.  Real life is such that as we go through our day-to-day routines, we are constantly confronted with challanges, trials, battles, pains, and sufferings. And if we are to be overcomers, if we are to win any of these battles, we must fight them on both fronts: physical and spiritual. 

Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art, a ferocious hand-to-hand combat form of self-defense.  It was developed in the 1930s to help protect the Jewish community in Czecholslavakia from Nazi thugs. Later, its inventor brought it Palestine during the British Mandate and introduced it to the Haganah, the Jewish underground army there, where it has since become the official unarmed-combat system of Israeli Special Forces units.   Its basic principles are simple:

  • do not get hurt
  • go from defense to attack as quickly as possible
  • do as much damage to the attacker as quickly as possible
  • attack the opponent’s vulnerable points
  • use any available objects as weapons
  • be constantly aware of everything that is happening around you.

This type of defense tactic seems appropriate to Christian life because it focuses on fighting under worst-case conditions — like so much we find ourselves caught up in.  It assumes the enemy is out to destroy you and that you must do whatever it takes to defeat him and remain unharmed. And it is particularly aggressive.  How is this Christian?  Jesus warned us that we should expect trouble in this life, and he informed us of our enemy’s mission: to steal, kill, and destroy (John 16:33; 10:10).  We ARE on the defensive.  We must expect to be attacked.  And Jesus’ own life demonstrates the seriousness of his own work to break the power of the enemy. “God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Like Jesus, our mission is to go around doing good and freeing others from the oppression of the enemy — beginning with ourselves.  God planned these missions for us long in advance (Eph 2:10), and it’s time we stopped being the passive victims of chaos and trouble, and become the forceful agents of his Kingdom he designed us to be.

For me, this is going to be an experiment in spiritual growth, an adventure.  I’ll try to post specific examples of what problem I’m attacking, and what weapons I’m using against it.  And I invite you to join in.  Post your own battle plans and strategies.  What weapons work for you?

We need to begin looking at specific areas of our lives where we are being attacked: health, finances, relationships, personal issues, our jobs, our hopes and dreams, anything else that is out of order in our lives or the lives of those around us.  And working in both the physical and spiritual realms, we need to use the objects at hand as weapons to turn the situation around: faith and works, prayer and action.  We need to see how we can move from a defensive to offensive posture as quickly as possible.  And expect God to meet us there in the struggle.  He never rewards passivity; we cannot expect his power to be released if we’re just sitting patiently with our hands folded.  “Forceful men lay hold of it.” 

Now, when you encounter your next problem, shout to yourself “Krav Maga”. Think street-fighting.  Think “go on the attack, turn the tables as quickly as possible”.  And “use whatever is available, both physical and spiritual.”   We walk in both worlds, we must use the tools of both worlds.