Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

"There are no accidents."

Kung Fu Panda is the unlikely story of an overweight, clumsy panda bear who aspires to be the most powerful, graceful kung fu master in ancient China. It may seem outrageous, perhaps even a mistake, but according to the wise old turtle Oogway in the movie, "There are no accidents."

The clumsy panda bear in question is Po (voiced by Jack Black), whose everyday is quite normal. He is not a matrial arts expert, but a lazy assistant cook for his father's noodle shop in the Valley of Peace. But despite his flaws, he dreams big, and by accident, Po ends up literally blasting himself into the middle of the Jade Temple and ends up as the appointed Dragon Warrior destined to save the kingdom.

This swirling twist of fate even surprises Po. For all his dreaming, he realizes how much of a mistake it is for him to be in this incredible role.

Even more, he is overwhelmed with guilt for displacing the rightful heirs to the dragon title, the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogan), and Monkey (Jackie Chan). These five were his lifelong heroes, but now he has stepped into a role he never thought he would ever have.

But what very few animals in this movie's ancient kingdom realize what defines greatness. I would venture to say that very few people in our world today realize it as well.

Greatness is not brute strength, creative manuevering, or witty language. Greatness is not inherited, nor is it the equivelent of "perfection."

Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked that "Jesus gave us a new definition of greatness." Jesus, King said, told us that greatness has its roots in what others consider weakness. When Jesus tells his disciples that to be great, they must actually strive to be the least.

What made Po great was that he was aware of his weakness, and used it to his advantage. SPOILER ALERT: In the climatic battle in Kung Fu Panda, Po uses his overweight belly, his insatiable appetite, and his basic skills in the kitchen to single-handedly defeat the most powerful and most evil creature in ancient China, the snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane)... something that the Furious Five could not do altogether.

Should we ever feel inadequete like Po, let's never forget that we are no accident. God does not create accidents. Instead, let us find strength in our humility and even in our weaknesses. And in that, we will find Jesus' new definition of greatness.