STOP! The following is a look at some of the major themes found in Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda 2.
First, go and see Kung Fu Panda 2 then come back and read this (it’ll probably make more sense). In fact, have you even seen Kung Fu Panda (1)? Go watch it first, then go to the cinema to see Kung Fu Panda 2, then come back here and read this post on the themes of Kung Fu Panda 2. And by that stage there might even be a new post to read as well (not on Kung Fu Panda 2 necessarily, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it all the same).
“Inner peace. Inner, inner peace.”
This is the mantra repeated by Master Shifu in this years animated blockbuster Kung Fu Panda 2. Continually through out the film Po (the Panda) tries to get to grips with his inner peace. Master Shifu explains to Po that only by mastering inner peace can he become a true master of kung fu. He reveals that this can take decades of commitment in order to achieve inner peace, but it is the only way to to face your past and confront your future. Shifu demonstrates his inner peace by manipulating a drop of water and redirecting it onto a plant. With super awesome kung fu moves and gravity-defying drops of water Shifu show Po what inner peace can achieve. Po tries to replicate the moves several times through out the movie but never seems to get it right. He’s distracted with the constant concern of his origin, where he comes from and who his real family is (Mr. Ping, the goose, is his adopted father oddly enough). Po finally come to terms with his mysterious past when the soothsayer shows him the village where he was born. A story of sacrificial love from his parents explains why Po was adopted. The old soothsayer explains that although Po may have a sad beginning to his story, it doesn’t control him or define him. All that is important is what you choose to be now.
But is that so?
Does peace come from looking within oneself and simply coming to terms with what you find? Not according to Jesus. According to Jesus true peace, life changing and fulfilling peace comes from GOD. It’s not found through self-discipline or meditation or because you’ve managed to “go for months without eating, surviving on the dew of a single ginko leaf and the energy of the universe” (Tigress, KFP1). Peace comes from above. Peace is the result of trusting in the sovereign God of the universe, the One who brought all things into existence and knows the past present and future. Trusting, whole-heartedly that God loves you (as he says He does) and that when you entrust yourself to God your final destination is with Him for eternity. Paul says,
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
God is for you. God is near. God is with you. So what do you have to worry about? So what do you have to be afraid of? There are echoes of Psalm 23 here, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” Pray. Take everything to God in prayer. He wants to hear from you. It’s not too small to bother God with, that’s limiting and restricting your view of God. God cares about birds falling and you’re more precious to God than a bird is. And when you entrust everything to God, you won’t have anything left (until the next thing comes along, then you give that to God through prayer and keep repeating) and you’ll experience God’s peace. It’s a kind of peace you don’t expect. It’s a peace that onlookers cannot grasp, they’ll think, “What’s changed? The world is still falling in around you, but you don’t seem to be as stressed out about it!” (Hence it’s surpassing all understanding) That’s because God’s in control. You’ve stopped juggling all the stuff in your life and put them in God’s big hands. And this peace protects and guards your heart and mind in Jesus. And this peace is promised by Jesus Himself,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
So in a sense, Po and the soothsayer are right, the past doesn’t matter, “the only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.” But only in the sense that what you’ve done in the past does not form who you are or your identity, if what you choose to be now is part of Jesus’ kingdom. That is the only way to obtain peace, to be made right with God and to receive forgiveness. You life won’t hinder your acceptance before God if you humbly seek forgiveness from Jesus through His death on the cross.
Peace is obtainable. But not from looking within but by looking up, seeking God and trusting Him.