Loving the Champ: Our heroes of Today

It isn’t something that I would probably admit in a first round job interview or to the average joe at church–at least not at first. Nothing to be ashamed of of course. My only problem with sharing with people that I love MMA and that I do enjoy spending evenings in bars watching UFC fights, is that I end up really getting into it and then…well, getting too into it.

But yes, I do love the UFC and MMA as a whole.

Recently, my wife and I drove down to Atlanta from our home in North Carolina to go watch UFC 145: Jones vs Rampage. It was supposed to be one of the biggest fights of the year, and, because we don’t live in Las Vegas, this was a perfect opportunity to fulfill a line in my “life to-do” list: go to a UFC fight.

The whole weekend in Atlanta was incredible. But what I really enjoyed was getting to watch my favorite fighter, Jon “Bones” Jones, defeat one of his rivals, Rashad Evans, at UFC 145. I love Jonny Bones. I do. I honestly still believe its going to take someone who is really good to hand him his first defeat.

That is, his first defeat inside the octagon, of course. Over the weekend, Jon Bones was charged and arrested for a DUI after crashing his beautiful Bentley into a phone poll, in Binghamton, New York. The man I, and thousands of others, had worshipped as the indisputable UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of the world, failed at self-control and endangered his life as well as the lives of whoever else may have been in the vehicle with him.

What happened to him?

What makes matters worse is that Jon Bones claims to be a God-fearing man and a disciplined human being, father to two daughters, and a responsible son to a pastoral family from his home state of New York. Why did he get in that car? What pushed to him drink and drive? What happened to the super-human individual we worshipped?

The problem with our heroes of today, and heroes of ancient times as well, is that at the end of the day, they are just like us. Whether they maybe professional fighters, politicians, baseball players, football players, artists, etc., their celebrity status doesn’t reduce in any way the risk of temptation, of sinning, and of all the pains, problems, and hardships that the rest of us go through. Actually, their status may actually increase the risks and the impact of these.

I am praying for the champ: Jonny Bones. I am praying for him not because I believe he is a “good guy.” Who can claim to be a good guy? No. I am praying for him because I am pretty certain that whatever made him drink and drive this past weekend, whatever he was going through, or whatever he was struggling with, I probably have struggled with and have most likely encountered in my life. I love Bones. But I love him because he is in as much need of the redeeming love and grace of God as I am. I love him because at the end of the day, he is like me.

We don’t know the details of the situation. We don’t know what made him do what he did. Maybe we won’t find out for a while. But what we do know is that every single human being has a fundamental need for God’s grace, love, and mercy. We all need atonement for our sin–no matter the kind, the type, or the magnitude of the sins we have committed. We all have the choice to surrender before our perfect hero, our savior, our warrior-king, Jesus Christ, and confess to Him our need for his grace and salvation. He is our only true and prefect hero we can always trust, throughout the ages.

From one sinner to another: I love you Champ. I pray that whatever you are going through, you turn to God first before anything else. But I also pray that if you choose not to turn to God for help, that God decides to reach out to you.

Be loved.


The Champion of the World


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