Kenshin, is a man I would marry. That’s how high my opinion of him is. Now that we got that out of the way…

I love watching the old 90’s Rurouni Kenshin anime and just sit and smile and laugh with delight. I’ve adored Kenshin and his story, in fact I would call the story arc Tsuioku-hen my favorite anime ever. It was one of my first anime, but it’s stayed my favorite for a while.

When I first was introduced to Kenshin, I couldn’t believe how noble he was. His transformation from the Battosai to the Wanderer reminds me of the transformation Christians go through when we are saved. This allowed me to apply Kenshin’s life to my own surprisingly more then I would expect.

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Kenshin is a noble man because he understands that in his old life, he has done wrong to society. Now, he is a good man who obeys the laws, defeats evil, and goes out of his way to help people. This sounds a lot like what would be expected of any “Average Christian” right? Like Kenshin, once we were guilty and now we are made new, and our actions and life style represent this new life. The difference however, is the attitude of our hearts – and this difference breaks my heart.

Although Kenshin looks like a very happy man, I would guess this to be untrue on the inside. Although he has the happiness of his close comrades, which I’m sure brings a lot of satisfaction, Kenshin lives in his own shadow. He uses the reverse blade sword to atone for the deaths of the lives he took. To him, each person he saves, if like earning forgiveness for one he has killed.

Sanoske to Kenshin: “You know one of your faults is that you try to put the whole world on your shoulders, like you are now…”

My Japanese teacher, I call her Sensei, would say about Kenshin, “He’s so Japanese!” My Sensei often talks about how stubborn her culture is and in their beliefs. Kenshin is being stubborn, because he’s sticking to a measuring stick that is almost impossible to satisfy. But that is the only way he knows how to deal with his bitter guilty conscious. It breaks my heart that Kenshin believes this is the only way he can ever atone for his sins. There is such a heavy sentence he has placed upon himself. But it kills me that there are so many people out there who do the same thing to themselves!

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I will never understand the kind of burden that guilt was on Kenshin. I am thankful for that, but I can imagine how devastating it must be. I’ve dealt with ordinary teenage girl guilt, and it ate me up inside so much I didn’t want to do anything. But the kind of burden Kenshin has on his shoulders costs the rest of his life working for atonement. Kenshin’s measuring stick of guilt is unreasonably large. How can a man possible live a life like that? It’s impossible!

“The Scar of my past will determine my future!” – Kenshin Himura

Kenshin has met the first step of accepting salvation. Admitting you have a sin problem. Before we can receive forgiveness for our sins, we need to realize that we have some problems. Kenshin admits that easily. But Kenshin has no concept of the most important part of salvation – grace!

I remember being a young girl and how my mom would explain to me what grace was. When I would do something bad, and she would put me in a time out. Then she would tell me that Jesus would sit in time out for me instead because he loved me, and that that was called grace. She wanted to make sure that even at four years old, I understood the character of God, someone who gives you something even when you don’t deserve it. Kenshin never got to know that such a beautiful thing existed. He had no concept of God, let alone a God who has an abundance of grace, and would lay down his life for him. Someone who would give up his life for him… like his first wife Tomoe?

“A manslayer is a mansleyer until the day he dies!” -Jinei Udo

He must believe that the world is a cruel place to take away his beloved. But it’s the very reason that his wife died for him, that defines the creator of the world! Yes the world is viscous, but the love that exists in Tomoe exists in such a grander scope then Kenshin can’t imagine. All he sees is the world, and the rules of the world that keep him a slave to his guilt.

It’s because I know that Kenshin is suffering so much, and that there are many people who live like this, that I want to dive into the anime and explain to Kenshin that someone like Tomoe died for him so he could live as a free man from guilt. Grace is a concept like no other.

1Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:8

And I think this is where Western Christians need to stop and think about grace. When a gift is free, we tend to take it for granted. When the gift is given all the time, we begin to expect it. We are so used to being forgiven and cleansed of our sins that we don’t understand it’s worth anymore. We become lazy in our faith.

Now, never will we have to work for our salvation, or earn forgiveness. But we should live everyday aware of how heavy the price of our salvation is. The God we love so much DIED so that we wouldn’t have to be like Kenshin, and strive to earn redemption. Why did God do such a thing? Sometimes I think about how God dying for me personally, and I’m just stand there like dumbfounded like, “Why? God, I’m a mess, why did you do this for me?”

 

Grace.

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