“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 recognised in boxing fraternity as one of the few pugilists with the hardest punches, a crown claimed by Mike Tyson too. Big, tall, muscular and truculent, Foreman was not only a rascal in the ring: he was a terror outside it. In the same way, a Bugatti Chiron 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 a man at the fore just as his name, Foreman, implied.
One of his lowest moments came in 1974 when Mohammed Ali floored him 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 in place by then. It did not happen at Madison Square Garden though it was in existence. Donald Trump did not host it as he was still in his twenties (He hosted several of Mike Tyson bouts). So where was this fight held? It was held in the land of minerals, expansive rainforests and snaking rivers. It was hosted in the multicultural nation of Congo. 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 superintend 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 occurred to his world-famous son. He would then join his son in the church till his final breath.
Once a puncher always a puncher
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.
Foreman is now old and does punching for Jesus. With one right hook and a left uppercut, he sends Mephistopheles 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 and behave like the Celtic 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. Therefore 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 slaying the followers of Yeshua Hamashiach. Riding furiously on a horse, with arrest and death warrants, Paul 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 waging?
Secondly, Paul fought a good fight. This is mentioned in 2nd Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He had combated in jails, shipwrecks and kings’ courts. He fought hard to write the epistle while 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 serious boxer for he finished well.
How many good fights are we waging?
We are fighters
Every Christian is a fighter. We are either battling 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.
1stTimothy 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
Right now, you are either engrossed in combat or preparing to throw jabs. 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? Is it beneficial to His people at large? Is it making me a better person?
We have adversaries springing from within. They include fear, anger, disbelief, selfishness and evil thoughts. These are the enemies we have to contend with and decimate. Living with selfishness is pointless. It makes us fruitless Christians. We do not get a chance to enjoy our lives as Christians.
Thomas Manton, a 17th Century clergy, said, “When we make self the end of the prayer, it is not worship but self-seeking”.
- Get the Right Equipment
The equipment of our warfare is neither knives, swords, crossbars and poisons nor Merkavas, M16s, Raptors, Sukhois and F-35s. 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 worthless. We are far enlightened than David for we have the New Testament Canon. Are we trying to fight with our own armour? Perhaps that is why we are worn out, depressed 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 our skirt for long. It will let it down and result in unimaginable discomfort);
The breastplate of righteousness (Unrighteousness will leave our hearts susceptible to fiery darts of the enemy);
The gospel of peace (The feet of fearmongering, rumourmongering and warmongering cannot stand for long);
The shield of faith (Faith is like an elaborate and yet a formidable air defence system. It tracks and destroys all missiles and projectiles before they wreak havoc);
The helmet of salvation (Severing of the head signifies the end of life, authority, dynasty, dreams and destiny);
The sword of the spirit (A sword is not only a weapon of defence but also an offensive armament. Defeat begin to beckons when we don’t get grounded and rooted in the Word of God.
- Learn the fundamentals of fighting
No boxer steps into the ring without first getting grounded in the 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 at the University of Rhema and Logos; Enrol in the evening class of Meditation; The Scriptures distils 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 requisite for a solid career. Boxers know that consistent, persistent, and insistent weight training, rope jumping, running and pushups are essential for a world-beating career. They know that after performing all these summersaults and gymnastics, they need to unwind and reenergize. Their mental frame must be as sturdy as steel bars holding Burj Khalifa intact. They also know that a decent 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 cravings to gravitate towards that which serve your spiritual void. Whet your appetites for an uncommonly Christian banquet. Walk with the right coach. Learn from the right trainer.
- Start sparring
Every fighter 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 and fast.
- Improve steadily
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 required. Kick out addiction by continually improving. Move from one to two; two to three; three to four and so on. 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. The Christian life is a journey. Walk with others. Soon you will be a pound for pound fighter.