Shamrock, Ortiz, Rampage and Couture are all big names in the MMA world. UFC is one of the fastest growing sports world-wide and it’s competitors are increasingly becoming celebrities among teenage boys (and men who wish they were!) It’s popular for sure but not universally so – debate rages about the barbaric nature of the fights and their influence on a culture that is already saturated with violence. I occasionally watch this sport but couldn’t be described as an avid fan. I know that some people believe Christians shouldn’t view this stuff and I wonder what they’d make of the likes of Vitor Belfort who is a Christian and UFC fighter. There may be legitimate arguments on both sides of this debate but I am confident that Bible does say to Christians that UFC is wrong – as a title at least.
Roundhouse kicks, arm bars, throw downs, ground and pound, choke holds etc are not the ‘ultimate’ weapons at the disposal of Christian people. Our ‘ultimate’ enemy is not a person in an octagon. Paul the apostle says to the Ephesian Church that the Ultimate Fighting Championship takes place outside the octagon…
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12 ESV
The Ultimate Fight for Christian people is in the spiritual realm. Our weapons are the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus name. We live in a permanent octagon – the battle against evil continues every day. The outcome is not in doubt (even though at times we may feel the full weight of our opponents moves.) Like the MMA guys we need to train ourselves for battle against the enemy and make use of the resources at our disposal so that the devil is resisted and evil overcome.
As Christians, if we don’t realise we’re in a fight it is likely that we will take a beating. The key to success is to acknowledge that there is an opponent, be aware of his strategies and make full use of the superior power we have been given.
you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 ESV
At Carnmoney Church we recently thought about this topic and you view the whole sermon (entitled Lord Over Demons) by clicking here.
Saying the word ‘no’ can be a problem for lots of us. The phone request, the email, the text message and the person who grabs your arm as you leave the meeting because they want you to join their team, attend their event, help with a project they’re planning or see if you’re free in the next week for a coffee and chat. Immediately we feel bad because we realise refusing this person is going to make them disappointed and so rather than reply negatively we bow to the demand, attend the event, turn up at the meeting or arrange a coffee that we’d really rather not drink! We fool ourselves into thinking that saying yes all the time is the “Christian thing to do” and that we’re being very selfish when we say no to the requests.
This is wrong. There, I’ve said it. Saying yes to all these requests is not a selfless thing to do it’s a selfish thing to do. We say yes because we don’t want to disappoint people. I agree to do stuff so that other people will like me. Our motivation for agreeing to requests is often rooted in a desire to have other people think highly of us. In the Sermon on The Mount [that we’ve been looking at in Carnmoney recently] Jesus instructs His followers not to be preoccupied with what people think of them. He makes it clear that the life motivated by pride is rewarded by people but the life motivated by humility is rewarded by heaven. Martin Lloyd Jones puts it like this
There is no reward from God for those who seek it from men.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:1 Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
For God’s glory and your own joy – feel free to say ‘no’
You can listen to the full message on Matthew 6 by clicking here
Every now and again I hear something on the radio that makes me want to stop in my tracks and yell ‘YES’ at the top of my voice. This usually happens on a Saturday afternoon when I realise that Sunderland are destroying United or that Rafa hasn’t rotated …
Recently however I heard Mumford and Sons sing these words
It was not your fault but mine
and it was your heart on the line
I really “messed” it up this time
(radio edit/live lounge/bad word edited/ you know what the unedited version says)
I wanted to yell ‘yes’ at the top of my voice because I connected with the raw honesty of these words as an accurate communication of the gospel message. We all have ‘messed it up’, it’s totally our fault but Jesus places His heart on the line by dying in our place on the cross. There’s real integrity in these words by Mumford that’s too often lacking in our worship songs, songs which rarely mention the fact that we are seriously ‘messed up’ by sin. I grew up singing that I should be ‘in right – out right – up right – down right – happy all the time’ because Jesus had come into my life but very rarely did I sing with honesty that I had screwed up.
Mumford & Sons have forcefully reminded me of the heart of the gospel and I pray that more worship leaders and song writers will follow their example.
2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.