The world of Mixed Martial Arts, with all its controversies, is not for the faint of heart. Yet, I can’t seem to stop watching the fighting. Sometimes the bloodier the match, the more popular the sport becomes. We have seen this over the past several years in the ratings explosion of the sport over television and pay per view. Watching it takes me back to my days watching the movie Bloodsport with my brother as a kid (don’t tell anyone, but I actually wanted Chong Li to win). Over the past several years, Ronda Rousey has taken the sports world by storm. She has done this in a world that has been dominated by men for many years. A recent MMA Weekly article quoted her as saying she wanted to be the best fighter ever. Not just the best female fighter, but the best fighter ever. The sports media was quick to point out that she could beat all of her female competition, including many male fighters. But a few weeks after the article was published, after going her entire UFC career undefeated, Ronda Rousey was dominated in the Octagon, and knocked out in the second round by Holly Holm. Most of the media world did not predict anything like this. ESPN called Ronda losing “among the most shocking upsets in sports history.”
After watching this upset, I can’t help but bring this to terms in our Christian life as well. So many times we look at our Christian walks, and want to be the best. We want to be the fighters for our faith. We want to run the race to the finish. We want to get to the top of the hill. But sometimes, in those very moments where we think we have it all together, and we feel like we are doing better than ever, we’re hit with the shocking upset. When we are at the pinnacle of our careers, family life, ministry, etc, our lives often come crashing down just like Ronda Rousey being dominated in the Octagon. I don’t know about you guys, but I know I’ve had my Ronda Rousey moments in my life. I have those moments where I feel like I can defeat the whole world around me, where nothing can stop me. That’s until the sudden wave of anxiety or depression hits, your boss calling you into his office to let you know you’ve been outsourced, or even that phone call from a family member saying a loved one is sick or has passed away. It’s in those moments that reality hits us. In fact, it often takes only one small event (or kick to the head) to realize we aren’t as powerful as we thought we were. We all have the potential for greatness, but even more so, we most likely have an even greater tendency to be exposed to failure in our lives.
Here is the Good News: We can stop our attempts at being the best. We don’t need to clamor to be the best in our careers, family, or even in MMA. We are fully and freely justified in Christ despite our failures. In fact, it’s in those moments where we feel like we are at our worst is where Christ is truly present in our lives. Not just in our greatest moments or in our undefeated streaks, but our weakest moments and those times where we are laid out flat on the floor of the Octagon. In Christ, He takes all of our hits, losses, and failures, and takes them upon Himself, nailing them to the cross. And we get His perfect, undefeated streak in return.
The Anglican theologian Richard Hooker once said: “We are in the sight of God the Father as is the very Son of God himself. Let it be counted folly, or fury, or whatsoever. It is our wisdom and our comfort; we care for no knowledge in the world but this: that man hath sinned and God hath suffered; that God hath made Himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God.”
Thanks be to God for taking our failures, and giving us His perfect victory in return. Amen!
Matt is a proud husband and a father to two young boys and a teenage daughter. He works for the Department of Defense in a variety of Information Technology roles. In his free time, he loves studying Anglican and Lutheran theology, and has founded the website www.lutherananglican.com to showcase some of his favorite theologians of the past and present. He attends Church of the Messiah in Fredericksburg, Virginia.