When I was growing up my brother and I would watch Saturday night wrestling. We would then imitate them, trying to figure out how to do the ‘sleeper hold’, or the ‘figure four’. We would also watch boxing from time to time. One year our parents bought us boxing gloves for Christmas. We even had a couple of punching bags.
Now they have a league called Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC). Two fighters get into a caged ring and duke it out for 3 5-minute rounds. Punching, kicking, and wrestling are allowed. It is too intense for some people. It can get bloody. The fight is often called because one fighter is put into a submission hold, such as if they are not released, their arm, leg, or neck would be broken, or they may die. So they ‘tapout’ by hitting the mat several times, notifying the referee that they quit. Other times it is a brawl to the end, and the judges determine who wins based on who has dished out the most damage. Oh… and sometimes a fighter wins by knocking out their opponent.
I have friends who enjoy watching the sport. I also have friends who compete in such fights. I have no desire to be repeatedly punched in the face. Neither do I have the desire to do that to others… usually. It is a sport that tests the limits of individuals. It calls upon intensity, endurance, strength, focus, strategy, etc. But it is not for everyone.
I was recently watching a match between two men (yes, women compete in these as well). Kenny Roberston was battling Ben Saunders. On paper, Saunders seemed to have a slight advantage with more wins under his belt, and a 4” height as well as 4” reach advantage… which is significant when you are fighting. But for the first two rounds, Robertson seemed to put out the better fight. At one point in the first round, he took Saunders to the ground with a ‘takedown’. It was an aggressive move which impressed me, but I remember the commentators saying that Saunders actually does well on his back, and that may not be the best move for Robertson. Really? Saunders has an advantage on his back?
It turns out the commentators were right. With the fight pretty much in hand midway through the third and final round, Robertson again took Saunders off of his feet and to the mat. But Saunders then put Robertson in a lockdown position and began to pummel him, primarily punching the top of his head. Without going into gory details, let me just say that the fight got very messy. For around about 2 minutes Robertson, on top, was the punching bag of Saunders, who was on his own back. Had he not taken Saunders down, there’s a good chance he would have won the fight. As it was, Saunders was able to get in enough solid blows in the last couple of minutes to win the match. The takedown cost Robertson the fight.
I know what you are thinking… what does this have to do with the Christian walk? Well, I think sometimes we do our best work when we are on our back. The enemy keeps trying to take us off of our feet. And when he does, we can start to panic and believe the match is over. But history shows that the Church actually succeeds when we are ‘in trouble’. If you look around the world, the Church is thriving in areas that are known for persecution. Not only are they growing in numbers, (which is counter-intuitive), they are growing individually in their spiritual walk. The persecuted Church looks like they are in trouble when they are on their back, but they are putting the enemy in a submission hold.
Being attacked by the enemy is part of the game. But it is as if God has given us the innate ability to fight best when we are on our back. Close combat is not normally desired, but it seems we are designed for that. Satan thinks that if he can get us down he can finish us off. But one of the early Church leaders said, “The blood of the saints is the seed of the Church.” Taking us to the ground may seem to be a good idea for our foe, but it is where we do our best work. We probably get that from our leader, Jesus Christ. He did His best work when it seemed He was going down for the count. So it would make sense that we would as well.
The apostle Paul was not above using metaphors from his day. He often referred to the Christian life as a war, and even invoked imagery from sports such as boxing. At one point he talked about our life as believers in this way…
“We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh… Therefore we do not give up.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11,16)
Perhaps you feel like the Devil has you on your back today. Remember who has your back. Do not give up. Do not quit. The Spirit of God is working in you, especially when you feel like you are in a vulnerable position. God is not only in your corner, He is your strength. Just like in the UFC, this fight requires intensity, endurance, strength, focus, strategy, etc. Fight today. Fight from your back if necessary, but fight… knowing that the battle has already been won and the victory secured. This fight is not over, but it is in the bag. Just as the takedown backfired against Robertson, it will backfire on Satan as well.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.