The Alternative "Bushido"

...Honor. Faith. Discipline. What do these words and the things they represent really mean to Christians, anyway? I've noticed (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) that Americans have begun to forget what it truly means to be honorable. So, I have decided to try to help shed some light on the subject. How, you may ask? By comparing us to the most famous group of warriors this world has ever known; the samurai.

Now, you may be (depending on the kind of person you are) either A) Appalled that I'm comparing Christians to the most ruthless swords masters of all time, B) Thrilled that someone is FINALLY writing something like this or C) Wondering, "Uh, what's a samurai?" Well, allow me to go over the "mechanics" of a samurai, and then you may be able to see where I'm going with this.

First of all, for those of you that don't know, samurai are (or were) Japanese swordsmen/swordswomen. They carried two swords; the long katana, and the short wakizashi. They ruled Japan for nearly eight hundred years, and have been made into legends since their downfall in the mid 1800's.

Samurai weren't made; they were born. You had to be the son (or daughter) of a samurai to actually become a samurai. Training began early; it wasn't uncommon for a child to begin his or her apprenticeship around the age of four or five. Usually, this regimen ended around the age of fourteen, sometimes sixteen. And there was one thing that samurai were reminded of, old and young; they were to serve their masters without question. No questions, no hassle, and less time wasted. It was that simple. If not, then the only other honorable option was death by suicide.

Understand now that the samurai were taught since birth that they were to obey their masters without question, as I mentioned earlier. Allow me to elaborate; typically, a samurai served a feudal lord, called a daimyo, for the duration of their lives. The only exception was when the daimyo died first. In this case, any remaining samurai either followed their master into death or chose to live and become ronin, men of the waves.

At this point, you may be wondering, "What in the world was wrong with these guys? What were they, death-seekers?" Let me point out another thing that I have failed to mention: it was considered honorable to die for one's daimyo. Yup, it's true.

Now for a bit of history. (Please bear with me!) Around the Tokugawa regime began in the mid 1600's, Japan had its first contact with European explorers. With this brief contact, Japan gained the knowledge of not only gunpowder and numerous other inventions, but it also gained wind of new religions, including Christianity. That's right; Christianity. Scores of citizens were converted by the Truth found in the Word... Including the samurai, who followed the Lord as zealously as they obeyed their earthly masters.

However, the shogun (that is, the military leader of Japan) of that time, Tokugawa Ieyasu, saw Christians and all they stood for as a threat to the unified Japan the government had managed to achieve. Deeming that Christians had officially "worn out their welcome", Ieyasu ordered the execution of any and all Christians. Those who were found were burned do death, men, women and children alike. All cried the name of Jesus, even as the flames consumed them.

Okay, depending on your position (and your attention span) you might be A) Screaming angrily, "SCREW THE SHOGUNATE!!! MAY A PLAGUE COME UPON JAPAN!!!!", B) Starting to become impatient, and you don't really care what I've said so far, or finally C) Still confused as to what in the world I'm trying to say to you.

Well, here's my point. Think of God as our "Heavenly Daimyo" of sorts, and we as the samurai. After all, are we not warriors of Christ, taught to fear no evil and to do whatever our Lord says without question? Just as the samurai found it honorable to die defending their daimyo, as well as their family and friends, Christians find the greatest joy in laying down their lives for Christ.

In closing, if you haven't already, pick up your Bible and start following the "Alternative Bushido"; the Way of Christ. It just might change your life. After all, who knows what tomorrow will bring...?