By Joel A. Hess –
Along with millions of others, I was incredibly excited to watch the improbable match between the MMA star Conor McGregor and the boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. It was like a childhood fantasy matchup, the likes of which we might see on the Deadliest Warrior TV show one hundred years from now.
While every intelligent fan knew that Mayweather would win because they were boxing and not Ultimate Fighting, many desired to see McGregor defeat him. Ultimate Fighting has become the real man vs. man sport that boxing once was (though this bout reminded me how great boxing once was). Also, Mayweather is not the most likable fellow. And of course, McGregor’s personality comes right out of a Martin Scorsese movie or Pogues ballad.
As the fight began, McGregor certainly looked amazing. Throwing a flurry of punches that connected more than all of Mayweather’s opponents combined (exaggeration, I know), McGregor enjoyed being taller, stronger, and faster, let alone younger. Mayweather could only put his fists up and retreat to a corner.
Soon, however, McGregor tired. He had never gone that long in a fight. Surprisingly, Mayweather looked completely unbothered, relaxed, and seemingly not even perspiring. By the 10th round, Mayweather pounded McGregor and would have knocked him out had the ref not saved his reputation by stopping the fight. McGregor was visibly shaken. Mayweather wasn’t even breathing hard.
Why did a 40-year-old, 2-year-retired boxer so easily defeat the mighty Irishman? McGregor, God bless him, said it well, “He’s not that fast, he’s not that powerful, but boy was he composed.” Composure. Mayweather agreed and even admitted that the whole match was his plan all along. Apparently, earlier that week, he even attempted to bet on himself winning in the 10th round!
Why was Mayweather so composed? He had confidence. He was confident in his experience and skill. He was confident in his plan for the fight. He was confident in McGregor’s lack of skill and experience. He knew exactly what McGregor was going to do.
How’s your composure? Of all the people in the world, Christians should be the most composed! As the world flails frantically in the midst of every crisis, Christians should be last people flustered. Of course, as my wife and friends can attest, I’m the last one to talk about composure. Lord forgive me!
Why can we be so composed? Like Mayweather, we have confidence—not in ourselves, our strengths, or even in our faith, but in Christ who has bought us with His blood! He has already been in the ring. More composed than Mayweather, He smacked down sin, Satan, and death, even folding up the cloth on his head as left the grave. He is in the ring with us. He has already given us this victory in Baptism! Indeed, He fights for us today as He reigns over all things. Jesus calls his disciples Rocky, after all, and says He will build His Church, and not even hell can defeat her!
How foolish the Church looks when she freaks out over our culture that has become increasingly anti-Christian and anti-civilized. The Church should not be seen as whining, crying, frantically flailing our arms over the state of the world. What a terrible witness for a people who claim to have peace in Christ! Just like Mayweather predicted McGregor’s every move, we know much more about the world and its insanity. That’s why St. Paul regularly tells Christians to live quiet lives, to love their enemies and be kind to them. The world is already full of chaos. Jesus is the calm, and therefore, so is His Church.
Indeed, this same composure is available to us in our personal battles. Christ is risen! You are baptized in Him. You are forgiven, and you will rise too! Relax. We can enjoy composure in the face of every swing Satan, sin, and death can throw at us. We know they have and will be defeated. Keep calm as you move through the ring, loving your neighbor as yourself, throwing punches at your sins, temptations, and fears. Don’t be surprised as the enemy pummels you. It won’t last forever. It’s just his last gasp. He knows his time is done. The knockout is coming!