Many of us young people love anime.
The term "anime" is the general description of 2D cartoons created in Japan. It's a particularly unique phenomenon in the today's world, with 21st century, Disney-Pixar, three-dimensional computer animation being the dominant form of cartoon-type entertainment.
As Christians, we are always on the lookout for what not to watch in order to keep our souls in line with what God would have our eyes look upon. And rightfully so. Christians must monitor their spiritual intake. However, we also must not be so quick to judge something without first understanding it through biblical eyes.
Instead of experiencing what our children watch on TV, some Christian parents may find it easier to command their kids not to watch certain programming on the basis of its content being demonic, like in the case of the popular show Pokemon.
Though the intent of this thinking is good, is it also wrong in some cases. Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you."
We normally see this verse illustrated in the context of judging other people. But I believe God also meant this verse to extend beyond that.
There is an extremely successful anime that comes on Cartoon Network and Disney called Naruto. It's a coming-of-age tale of a boy named Naruto Uzumaki who wants to become the greatest ninja in his village.
But Naruto has a problem. When he was a baby, a terrible demon attacked his village. The demon was so powerful that no warrior could destroy it. The only thing the people of the village could do was lock it inside a human being. And so the people of the village locked the demon inside baby Naruto.
Now this is the usually the part where some Christian parents say to their kids, "Oh my goodness, this show has demons in it. You're not allow to watch it."
It's easier to be that simple about it unless you think about the content of the show and reflect upon the what the Word of God says.
Just think about it. Naruto, a innocent child born into the world with demon inside him, cursed with evil long before he could speak or think. Sound familiar? If it doesn't then let's reflect.
Adam and Eve are much like the people in Naruto's village. Had they been strong enough to resist the devil at the garden, maybe we'd all be different by now. If the villagers in Naruto had been stronger, maybe they could have defeated the demon instead of having to place the burden on him.
Naruto's birth is very similar to what David said in Psalms 51:5 after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. David said "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the day my mother conceived me."
The evil that both David and the creator of Naruto both talk about are the same. What's called a demon in Naruto is what we Christians call the flesh, something evil that all of us are born with because of the mistakes that came before us.
As Christians, we must act with love, not quick judgment, when dealing with things that are foreign to us. We have to be like when Jesus (perceived as a Jew) spoke to the Samaritan woman in John 4. He didn't have to say a word to the woman. Jews didn't associate with Samaritans. But Jesus talked with her anyway and she was blessed because of it.
The same could be said of the Centurion that wanted Jesus' help. The Centurion was Roman. And Romans didn't treat God's people with respect. But Jesus saw something Christian inside of him and decided to help.
This should be our approach to shows like Naruto. Instead of taking one look at something and defining it as good or bad in the first five minutes, take some time to process what the content is about.
Yes, there are definitely some programs that Christians shouldn't watch, some books or magazines that we shouldn't read. But then there is also that which can be used by the Lord to bless someone, if only Christians would look upon it with God's love.
Naruto's story is quite dynamic. As he tries to accomplish his goal, he is ridiculed harshly by everyone in his village. They all hate him. They think he's a failure and that he'll never make in ninja school, let alone be the best in his village.
As you are reading this article, ask yourself these questions: How many troubled children do you know? How many young men in your community struggle with carrying a demon inside them? How many teens do you know whose parents hate them and think of them as failures that will never make through school? Chances are you'll probably know or know of at least two or three of these examples.
Servants of Christ must find the good things about someone or something that is shackled to evil in order to free that someone or something from its bondage. Just imagine how many more people, young people, would come to God if they knew Naruto's story was something that God can use.
Is the creator of Naruto a Christian? Probably not. Did he intent for his work to be used to glorify God. Probably not. In fact, from his interviews with the media, the guy seems to be quite fascinated with demonic content. (I have prayed continuously that he be brougt to Christ someday.)
But we all know that what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. God can do anything, use anyone and change everything for his glory.