And … Still — by Jesse

JonJones_QuirozI’m an avid MMA (mixed martial arts) fan. I love it! There’s something about watching two people climb into an octagon-shaped cage to beat each other up that makes me love life more! I’m not alone in these feelings as this sport is quickly rising to be one of the most popular sports in the world. Many believe the man pictured here is or will be the greatest fighter to ever walk into the Octagon. He is Jon Jones, the UFC light-heavyweight champion of the world who has already DEFENDED his title nine times and he is only 27 years old. This dude has a lot of fight left in him, and he is one of my favorite fighters! I don’t know if you can see it or not, but there is a tattoo on his right shoulder (with the picture, it’s on the left). It is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I love that! It’s so cool to see a message of power and faith placed in the big lights on one of sport’s greatest platforms! But I have come to discover that there are a lot of folks who don’t see that as something to celebrate. They instead see it as a crime. In fact, the internet is full of criticism from the Christian community about some of the stupid decisions he has made in the past year (with an alcohol related incident), and frankly some very stupid statements he has made in recent months about opponents – dropping ‘F’ bombs and slanders that would make many understandably cringe. And most recently today, with the news that launched wherein he is checking himself into a drug treatment facility for substance abuse. I think what we have here is a young man who was handed success in the form of a lot popularity, money, and power – and hasn’t handled it with the greatest of grace. Not making excuses here, they are all absolutely wrong. But, why HATE on him? One Christian organization called for him to “simply remove the tattoo if he isn’t willing to live out the message that it represents.” If you know me at all, I absolutely loathe how quick the church can become a lion’s den to Christians who fail instead of a community where one can find the forgiveness, mercy and grace to change! So, as Bruce Buffer says ‘HERE WE GO!’ I pray this message gets out to all who love to throw hate in the name of Christ – and dare call it the heart of God for humanity. First of all, look at where the scripture is located … ON FLESH! Meaning, he is a man. A man who has a sinful nature. A man who wakes up every day with a tendency to do the OPPOSITE of what he was created to do. A man, like every single one of us. 1 John 1:8: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and there is no truth in us.” The fact of the matter is, we all sin (Romans 3:23) and regularly fall short of the purpose God has placed in front of all of us. The difference is, there aren’t cameras on us 24/7 broadcasting every action we make to the world for people to comment/blog/commentate/opine on. Remember, the scripture says ‘I CAN do all things through Christ …’ it doesn’t say I WILL do all things through Christ. A reality of life is that WE ALL choose to do stupid things. We all do. That’s not to negate our need for repentance, holiness and sanctification to be a MAJOR focus of our lives every single day, but we are pursuing those things with flesh that scripture says does NOT want to do ANY of those things (Galatians 5:17). But nonetheless, we keep on striving, we keep on ‘keeping on’ and it would SO COOL if we as the church would encourage people when they fail at that goal in their life to simply let them know that they are STILL loved, they are STILL cared for, and they are STILL covered in a grace that is so deep and wide, it cannot be measured. Just a thought. Hope it is received with a smile, because it was typed with one. Jesse Friend Jesse on Facebook or follow him on twitter @JesseAQuiroz Follow Journey Church on Twitter @Journey_MO


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