“You know, something has happened to that boy. I got to find out.” Those were the words of J.D. Foreman, the father to the heavyweight pugilism legend George Foreman. George Foreman is remembered in boxing fraternity as one of the few men with the hardest punches, a crown claimed by the young Mike Tyson too. Big, tall, muscular and truculent, Foreman was not only a bully in the ring: he was a terror outside it. In the same way, a Bugatti Veyron is designed aerodynamically to go fast he was genetically built to fight. He was a fighting machine; a piece of meat few could cook.
His career as a boxer had gone orbit and his life was a sybaritic, fast lane stretch. Glamour and glory were his other names. He was at the fore just as his name suggested.
One of his lowest moments came in 1974 when he was floored by Mohammed Ali at a duel that was famed as Rumble in the Jungle. This historic contest did not take place at MGM Grand Las Vegas as it wasn’t there by then. It did not happen at Madison Square Garden though it was in existence. It was not hosted by Donald Trump as he was still in his twenties. Trump would later host Mike Tyson’s fights and this can explain why he got unwavering support from the one time World champion. So where was this fight held? It was held in the land of plenty minerals, expansive rainforests and snaking rivers. It was hosted in the multicultural land of Congo (by then Zaire). Foreman fell in fervour, favour and flavour. Kinshasa became kick slasher.
However, this was not to be his coup de grâce, as this would come later in 1977 with defeat from Jimmy Young. This devastating defeat catalysed the about-turn in his life. The great George Foreman became a foreman in the Kingdom of God. He would now oversee the construction of Lord’s projects; something he still does to this date.
Father follows Son
The Senior Foreman, an alcoholic, was surprised at the change in the character of his celebrity son. They had never been in good terms since childhood. But this sudden shift in behaviour shocked the senior Foreman and he decided to find out what had transpired in the life of his world-famous son. He would then join his son in church and called him ‘preacher’ till he died. The son would call him ‘brother’. The once sour relationship had now blossomed to become sweet.
George Foreman was a voracious fighter. He was a perpetually angry mongrel; always looking for ways to eliminate his enemies. He even contemplated hiring hitmen to kill his foes. His sudden change was melodramatic.
Once a puncher always a puncher
George Foreman is now old and does punching for Jesus. With one right hook and a left uppercut, he sends Satan sprawling on the canvas. He still declares, not the ring victory, but world victory of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Isn’t that enthralling?
Paul the fighter
Death was one of the entertainment servings on the menus of Roman aristocrats and commoners. The fighting games were held several times in a year and paid for by the emperor of the day as a way of keeping the poor and unemployed entertained and occupied. In this way, they could not think of revolt like Boudicca. However, with each passing competition, the games gained ground and became a norm rather than a nonce.
Paul lived in this era of errors. Thus when he talks about a fighter what comes to mind are the Coliseums, gladiators, the Roman phalanxes and Circus Maxima.
Paul fought two kinds of battles. First and foremost, Paul fought a bad fight. He went about destroying the followers of Yeshua Hamashiach. Riding furiously on horses, with arrest and death warrants, he went forth like Beelzebub to cut down anyone who spoke of the man Jesus. He was a licensed cutthroat.
How many bad fights are we engaged in?
Secondly, Paul fought a good fight and he mentions it in 2nd Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He had combats in jails, shipwrecks and kings’ courts. He fought hard to write the epistles (the New Testament) in chains; he tarried in prayers to raise the dead back to life, to heal the sick, exorcise demons and standing up against imposters and peddlers of falsehood. He was determined to keep the faith come rain or shine. He purposed to persist come hell or high water. He was a real pugilist for he finished well.
How many good fights are we waging?
We are fighters
Every Christian is a fighter. We are fighting one thing or another. We are confronting one opponent after another. Victory is ours, but this does not eliminate the fact of warfare. Eternal life is a guarantee but in this world, we shall have trouble. The troubles of this world can either sink us or make us sing. They can either ruin us or make us rule. They can stop us or make us stomp into victory.
- 1st Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
- 2 Corinthians 7:5 “For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within.”
- Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
- Hebrew 11:32-34, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.
How do we go through this life and still have the strength to fight another day?
Identify your motive
There is a fight you are either engaged in, preparing to start off or about to finish. Whichever level of your fight, it is good to ask hard questions – why am I fighting this battle? Is it worth? Is it adding value to the kingdom of Jehovah? Is it edifying His Church/body? Is it beneficial to His people at large? Is it making me a better person? Why should I start this programme? Why should I start this project? Why should I go back to school? Why should I take up a theological class? Why am I doing apologetics?
There are battles emanating from within. They include fear, anger, disbelief, selfishness and evil thoughts. These are the enemies we have to contend with and decimate them. It is pointless to live with selfishness. It makes you a fruitless Christian. You do not get a chance to enjoy your life as Christian. You are free but not free indeed.
Thomas Manton, a Seventeen Century clergy, said, “When we make self the end of the prayer, it is not worship but self-seeking”.
Why do you want to start a fight? Why do you want to defeat that bad habit?
Get the Right Equipment
The equipment of our warfare are neither knives, swords, crossbars and poisons nor Merkavas, M16s, Rhaptors, Sukhois and F-35s, but spiritual armament. The spiritual warfare demands that we put on – not our own armour – the armour of God. It surprises me that David did not have to read Paul’s writings to know that Saul’s armour was useless. We have an advantage over David for we have the New Testament Canon. Are you trying to fight with your own armour? Perhaps that is why you are worn out and grumbling.
Ephesians 6:10-18 list the components that add up to the full armour of God.
The Belt of Truth (falsehood will not hold your skirt for long); breastplate of righteousness (unrighteousness will leave our hearts susceptible to fiery darts of the enemy); gospel of peace (the feet of fear, rumour and war mongers cannot stand for long); shield of faith (faith is like an elaborate and yet formidable air defense system); helmet of salvation (severing of the head signifies end of life, end of authority, end of dynasty, broken dreams, mindless decisions, end of destiny); sword of spirit (a sword is not only a weapon of defense but also an offensive armament. Without getting grounded and rooted in the Word of God, without hearing it again and again, then we will be unable to cut through the defences of the enemy and reach our destiny.)
Learn the fundamentals of fighting
No boxer steps into the ring without first getting grounded in basics of boxing. It is suicidal. In boxing, they say that the most dangerous punch, the one to fear most, is the one you never see coming.
Learn in the school of prayer; Study in the University of Rhema and Logos; Enrol in the evening class of meditation; The Scriptures distills and illuminates the spirit of a man.
Get a degree in the College of praise and worship. Know the basics of your worldview. Understand the underpinnings of your belief systems.
Get into the right condition
Every athlete worth his salt knows that endurance and strength exercises are fundamental for a good career. Boxers know that consistent, persistent, and insistent weight training, rope jumping, running, pushups, are the prerequisite for a world-beating career. They know that after doing all these summersaults and gymnastics, they need to unwind and reenergize. Their mental frame must be as strong as steel bars holding Burj Khalifa intact. They also know that proper diet is indispensable.
Feed on the Word of God. Train your appetites to grow a fondness for Godly literature. Train your mind to meditate on His Word day and night. Develop your appetites so as to always gravitate towards TV and Radio programmes that serve your spiritual hunger. Whet your appetites for real Christian music. Walk with the right coach. Learn from the right trainer.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao did not wake up one day and found themselves wherever they are. They have been in the game for long. They squared it out with sparring opponents before they stepped on the stage. Every boxer has a sparring partner. They practice their offensive and defensive skills on the partner. The sparring partner can be as good as the boxer or even better. The object of sparring is not to knock the opponent down but to learn more tricks and test your mettle.
Practice your faith. There is no point in talking and not working out. Put your talents, gifts and abilities into practice. Grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hook up with a mentor. Follow a guru. Join a sage. Go for attachment. Take a practicum. We can never grow to become better fighters unless we practice first.
Make it a point to add to whatever you already have. If you study the Bible once per week, then make it a point of studying it twice a week and keep progressing in that tangent.
Evaluate your progress and make amends where necessary. Kick out addiction by constantly improving. Move from one to two; two to three; three to four, and vice versa. Learn to celebrate victories however small they appear. Celebrate others victory too. That is why boxers and other striking sportsmen hug and shake hands after a clash.
Thank God for every step you take. A Christian life is a journey. Walk with others. Soon you will be a pound for pound fighter.