Not in a macho, worked up, too much testosterone, "let’s pick on some people we don’t like at a bar" type of way.
No no. I like martial arts. I like a good boxing, wrestling, MMA, jujitsu, or kickboxing match. I love the stuff. I blog about it constantly, and train to throw high kicks with competency at my every convenience.
What I love most about it is the struggle. The heart that a competitor puts into his performance. I have a great amount of respect for anyone who wants to put their health on the line for a little bit of money and the sound of screaming fans.
I am a screaming fan.
I’m amazed at how often I can look into a fight and see a life lesson. Everybody remembers getting inspired when Rocky went the distance with Apollo Creed, right? And then subsequently less inspired every time they made an exponentially more ridiculous sequel--- but then back to hyper-inspired in Rocky IV, because we just couldn't stand the USSR in the 80’s!
The thing I love most about watching the best fighters in the world compete is the idea that anyone is capable of surpassing their own limitations. Not just through hard work but through the acknowledgement of God's handiwork in individual lives.
9 times out of 10, a guy that busts his hump for 8 straight weeks in preparation for 15 minutes of hand to hand combat, in front of a live audience of thousands of people, and millions more watching around the world-- and this modern day gladiator will get down on his hands and knees and thank God that he is in there, living his dream, and for the moment, victorious.
Kind of counter intuitive, isn't it? You’d think after using your own hard work, determination, skill, athleticism, and innate ability to prove your mastery over another human being that you would begin to feel a bit… arrogant.
But most of the time, it’s just the opposite. They are humble, thankful, respectful, and happy for the blessings that have been given them this day. I suppose that humility is sort of inevitable when you spend your days simulating situations where you're being choked or bludgeoned to death by other grown men. Nothing is more humbling than having an all out scrap with someone and coming up short, and it happens to these guys EVERY DAY.
I find it at the very least, surprising. At its zenith, I think this kind of thing is admirable.
More to the point, and probably more along the lines of what you're used to:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” Luke 10:27
This is an interesting verse, particularly the phrase “all your strength.” Strength is translated from the Greek verb: ἰσχύς. Transliterated that’s: ischys, and read aloud it sounds nothing like either of those are spelled.
However, it doesn't have as narrow a definition as one might imagine. A thorough reading of the word reveals this meaning: To the extent of one’s ability. To put it another way, pushing yourself to the limit of your endurance.
For anyone who exercises a good bit, this should be a familiar concept. Nobody ever ended up bench pressing 300 pounds by skipping their last set, neither can you train for a marathon by walking. The idea that I’m is trying to impart here, is that Love is an exercise. A difficult endeavor. A struggle. A Fight. To quote the lovely and talented, Miss Pat Benatar: “Love is a battlefield.”
She’s as dead on with this estimation as she is with her high notes.
Loving God isn't easy. It’s a life or death struggle, quite literally, and putting all of your strength into it means pushing harder every day. Building your endurance, your capacity to love, empathize, sympathize, and appreciate all that is around you. It’s a battle to block out negativity, to refuse to judge your brothers and sisters, and to stand up for what is right.
It's not exactly an easy endeavor, but that’s the battle we are called to engage in. And that competitive spirit, that overwhelming urge to get your hand raised when the bell rings is the most blatant archetype of this concept that I can point out to anyone.
It's one the resounds as well. People are used to fighting our entire society is built on the competitive spirit. History, in fact, is just a long list of fights and who won them.
It may be that human beings are deplorable for so romanticizing violence, but at the same time, there's an innate romantic quality in there. Without battle, without struggle, there can be no triumph. And what has God called us to be if not triumphant? Not triumphant over one another, dominating the weak with injustice, but triumphant over ourselves with discipline, restraint, and passionate love of God and our fellow man. The latter of these, I have found to be a formidable opponent, but that's the only kind that makes my blood boil.
It's the hopeless situations that must be overcome. It's the darkness enveloping us that makes God's light shine so blindingly. God is inspiring because he is a defender, a provider, and a fighter. He never gives up on anyone or anything. In my humble estimation, we should go and do likewise.
So put your hands up and greet the world with a jab to the throat. You've got a lot of obstacles to overcome, and giving up just doesn't seem like such an attractive option.
Cue Inspirational music:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8hOKNbtxg