One criticism laid upon Naruto, Dragonball Z, Bleach, and other shonen series is this: the creators generaly resolving battles and fights through “power ups” rather than by clever story lines. Can’t beat the impossibly strong opponent? Just remember, people are depending on you. Now that should give you whatever it is you need to power up.
Naruto Shippuden is one giant power up for Naruto Uzamaki. Unlike the first five seasons of Naruto, in which the titular character has his share of pains, physical and emotional, Shippuden has been strangely a cakewalk. Naruto rarely loses and is rarely discouraged when fighting powerful opponents. He keeps his cool and just…powers up.
I get that a theme of the series is that when we find ourselves, we can overcome massive obstacles, including those that the expectations and assumptions that follow us, so we’re supposed to see a changed Naruto after his discipleship to Jiraiya. And I’m not saying it’s inaccurate to see an individual face obstacles victoriously over and over again after having matured.
But what’s largely left out, for reasons of entertainment and marketing I suppose, was how Naruto got to where he was . We miss out on the hard work that Naruto puts in toward become the unmovable young man in Shippuden.
In a Christian walk, it’s this “training” stage that is perhaps the hardest. New converts will find joy in Christ and mature Christians will be able to handle adversity, but it’s those in between that might struggle the most. Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23) reflects the problems of those who come to Christ. Some fall away on account of the devil; some to persecution; and others to the pursuit of wealth. But a few will grow to make a marked impact.
One day, with effort, prayer, faith, and obedience, a Christian can become like Naruto, in a sense, facing every obstacle with belief and not compromising or giving up, even when the challenges are massive. But the path there is not easy. It takes time and all of the things mentioned above. You can’t just skip directly from Naruto to Shippuden. But as you grow deeper in your faith, you’ll find that you powered-up as well, reaping thirty, sixty, or a hundred times what you sowed.