Gospel lessons from Kung Fu Panda

Over Christmas our family really enjoyed watching Kung Fu Panda – its a heart-warming story about a Panda called Po who becomes a martial arts warrior. His master Shifu teaches him how to use his abilities through Taoism and the ying and yang of opposing forces. His enemies laugh at him because he is big, soft and cuddly, but he uses his size to defeat them, by sitting on them or bouncing them off his rather large stomach. I used the film as a children’s talk last Sunday by playing guess the film character (slides available here).

There are some strong messages throughout the film – I’ve listed three of them here:

1. There are no accidents, nothing happens by chance, everything happens for a reason.
2. There is no secret ingredient – Po wanted to become the Dragon Warrior and thought the scroll would give him the answers, but he had to learn there is no quick way to becoming special or important
3. The search for inner peace – Po had a sad event in his early life and spends most of the second film seeking inner peace.
Each of these messages can be viewed from the bible’s perspective and tells us important things about the Christian faith:
1. There are no accidents – that’s right, each of us is created in God’s image, all our days are planned before we ever enter the world and God values and loves each one of us
  • The days of my life were all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139.16 (The Message)
2. There is no secret ingredient – lots of people think there is a secret to having a happy life, whether that be a special person, lots of money or something else. But God tells us that the reason we are special is not to be found in us. The truth is that we were God’s enemies and our ultimate value lies not in ourselves, but in what God has done for us – sending Jesus to die for us so we can know him.
  • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5.6 (ESV)
3. The search for inner peace – peace comes, not from within ourselves, but from a relationship with God, that begins when we put our faith and trust in Jesus – we become “justified” – just as if we had never sinned in God’s sight.
  • Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5.1 (NIV)

We maybe think that films like Kung Fu Panda have nothing to say about Christianity, but these films have strong messages, along with the books we read, TV programs we watch and music we listen to. We need to listen out for their messages and ask whether they are really true.

We should use these films as an opportunity to ask ourselves and our parents – what does the bible say about these things? We need to question the messages contained and how they present the truth. I’ve learnt that while there is a real need to protect our children from inappropriate influences, on the whole, it’s not what you watch but how you watch, its not what you read, but how you read that determines the influence. So next time you watch Kung Fu Panda, may it remind you that each of us is loved, special and can find inner peace only through the love of God in Jesus Christ.

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