The Big Fight…and Christians
It’s been more than a month since the undefeated, much-maligned, money-flinging boxing champ and the clad in fur, aviator-wearing, gum-smacking Irish fighter paraded before millions of Americans in LA, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London. Obscene barbs heaped upon profane gestures heaped upon outlandish claims were hurled with little thought and zero humility. In the end, countless viewers were left scratching their heads and wondering if either the “pride of the ring” or “the warrior of the octagon” are truly worth cheering on. Monickers such as “Money” or “Notorious” shouldn’t sit well with self-denying, Christ-exalting believers.
Now to set those who have purchased or are planning to view the battle at ease, I am not penning this manifesto to indict those watching the event. I am actually thinking through heading over to my buddy’s home Saturday evening to watch what may be – if we’re absolutely honest – a boring display of a brilliant boxer verses an over-matched southpaw. The only issue I struggle with is the after midnight start time pitted against my preparation for delivering the Word on Sunday morning. It’s likely that I’ll skip the spectacle, but I do believe there are points we as Christians can gather from this fight.
(1) A fight of this magnitude should serve to set up a brilliant analogy of what we as soldiers of Jesus are facing. The mantra of American evangelicalism adheres to the sermons of western culture: comfort, safety, security, and glee. Yet the theme of Christ and his apostles is that we are born again to fight. Jude pleads with us to earnestly fight for the faith. Paul states plainly that we struggle against invisible powers of darkness at work in this world. Ephesians 6 beckons us to take up the armor of God. Analogies of strenuous battle, skill in combat, or spiritual weaponry are common throughout the New Testament. All of this points us to – as the fight this weekend should remind us of – that we were awakened by the Spirit of God and clothed in the righteousness of His Son to wrap truth around our waist, strap on the helmet of sanctifying grace, and wield the sword of His word. Each body blow in the ring Saturday should serve to jog our minds to the reality that we as believers will suffer. The spread in Vegas should drive home the truth that we in and of ourselves are overmatched and that we must lean hard upon the skill and power of our Victor. As Jesus-loving thinkers we should all see past the smoke and mirrors of Mayweather-MacGregor to what this match actually is: an over-hyped analogy, like all others actions and events in this world, of our identity and calling in Christ Jesus.
(2) While we can certainly enjoy this probable dancing match – as we can enjoy anything that is not sinful or unwise – we must be reminded that this fight can serve as a colossal distraction from and deterrent to who we are called to be. I love a great many things. My wife, my kidos, my books, breweries, guitars, B28, billiards, history, cheeseburgers, and Georgia football head that list. None of these things – like the fight Saturday – are sinful in and of themselves. I can and do enjoy all of these to the glory of God. Yet each of these gifts can easily become a cheap, idolatrous god of my own conjuring, and then it is most certainly sin. As the world constantly calls for us to relax and enjoy, the Word on repeat says “be watchful, be vigilant.” The Floyd/Connor bout is NOT a good excuse to skip out on worship Sunday morning. It is not a good excuse to drink too heavily Saturday night. Succumbing to these temptations are just two examples of what it looks like when we worship what God gave us to use, instead of using what God gave us to worship Him with.
So, let’s enjoy the big fight – if that’s your cup of tea. But let’s learn from it and refuse to allow it or anything else to be a blasphemous, pathetic excuse for a god.