Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

A Faith That Fights

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 18•14

Christians are disciples, and therefore by definition, we are disciplined.Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it,” is couched in an exhortation not to grow weary under the discipline of our loving Father. By using the illustration of a Grecian Olympic fighter, the preacher to the Hebrews teaches us that part of our discipline in the Christian life is conditioning. We need practice.

IMG_1124My son had a great Martial Arts lesson the other day. Every now and then, his instructor will spend some time differentiating between the sport and real self-defense. Well, this was a real self-defense day. Before they began getting physical, his teacher, Jesse, asked the students what should be the first thing they look for when they enter a room, such as the one they were in. Kids started yelling out uninformed answers such as, “a punching bag!” or “a fighting cage!” Clearly, they weren’t getting where Jesse was going with this, and so he laughs and says, “No! If you are thinking self-defensively, you should always look for available exits when you enter a new place.”

Then Jesse pointed to the side door in the room and told the kids that he was going to come up behind them one by one, grab them firmly, and attempt to carry them across the large room and out of the side door. He told them to imagine they were hanging out with some friends at a movie. How would they react if someone physically tried to take them? Or, maybe the side door represented a car that a kidnapper was attempting to put them in. He explained that it’s hard to predict how you would react in such a frantic situation, and that it is good to practice. Then Jesse put some headgear on, and said that any tactic they wanted to use was fair game; just don’t let him get them to the car door.

You can read how this all turned out over at Reformation21 here. But here are some pics that will give you an idea about how things went down for H.IMG_1132


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  1. Tim says:

    Those pics are very telling, Aimee. Is the fact that H stayed to continue pummeling his attacker a trait he gets more from you or from Matt?

    In your post, the notion that trials and temptations might reveal “we aren’t quite as spiritually fit as we thought we were” is something that comes home to me all the time. Just when I think I might have moved on from a struggle it turns right around and hits me again. It can get very Romans 7-like.

    Yet as you say, in gathering for fellowship in the Spirit and the ministry of the Word of god we “rehearse the great gospel truths, and we affirm our confession of hope.” What a gift God has given us in this.


    P.S. Just last night I was reading my latest copy of Christianity Today and read an article that made me think of you and your brother and MMA. I’m not a boxing or MMA fan so much, although I do understand the attraction for fight fans. This university philosophy professor is also a boxing coach, and his questions about the sport and our discipline in Christ had me wondering. I don’t know enough about the whole thing, though. Since you posted this piece today, I figured I’d run it by you. Any thoughts?

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Thanks for the link, Tim. There is a line where the Martial “Arts” can become needless bludgeoning, and that is no good. But the arts of self defense, even how their tested for sport, is no more dangerous than so many other contact sports and regular vocations even. And I find it interesting how the preacher to the Hebrews uses Olympic fighting as an illustration for Christian perseverance. That being said, I certainly am not down with the churches who try to bring in cage fighting or MMA as a so-called church activity. Christianizing any sport is silly. We should keep church a holy activity and sports in the common realm. And while athletes certainly need to think about how they glorify God in their vacation, and how God providentially gives them both their victories and losses, they do go into a ring “fighting for Jesus.” That kind of language is so silly.

  2. Persis says:

    This is a great reminder that the means of grace are what equip and strengthen us to fight the good fight.

    (BTW, the self defense tips were helpful too. :) I’m passing them on to my daughter, who just got her gold belt.)

  3. I like Ephesians 6:12 where we see whom we wrestle against and then the subsequent verses for our armor.

  4. joankhartley says:

    This is an awesome post! Graphic and sobering. Fight on in the strength of Christ! 1 Tim. 6:12 (and notice v. 11 instructs us to flee from that which would bring us down)

  5. Links I like says:

    […] A¬†Faith That Fights […]

  6. christina jesuroga says:

    This issue fits into the theological category of sanctification. And out of all the benefits given to believers in their salvation, sanctification is the only one that is both synergistic and monergistic. Yes we need to rest in Christ’s final work on the cross, trust in His promise to keep us, and believe His commitment to present us holy and blameless on the Day of Christ; but we also need to agonize to enter the kingdom, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because of the work which Christ has accomplished on our behalf. We possess a faith that works. Why is it that we look like the poor kid in your illustration crying out “mommy” without even trying to fight? Are we impotent victims or have we been given all things pertaining to life and godliness according to His divine power? As I watch my boys wrestle,I can’t resist the parallel to your blogpost. Some have the strength and stamina but not the technique to maneuver out of a defeat. It’s for pure lack of knowledge that they lose. Others, like Rocky fighting Mr. T (feel free to judge me for loving the Rocky movies!), do not have the strength and size, but win the fight out of perseverance and strategy. Do we have any strategy to growing in Christ? Or do we just float along, hoping we’ll persevere? Like George St. Pierce says concerning training for a fight, “it’s not the way we start, but how we finish that counts”. Thank you, sister, for challenging us to have better theological fitness, a much needed reminder!

  7. Neo says:

    Should Christians train their children to fight? Or does this just make them better equipped to more quickly turn the other cheek?

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Neo, this is a great question, one that needs a little more space than a comment. I think I will answer this with another article. I will try to get it written tomorrow. It’s a little busy over here, so it may take until Monday. Thanks for bringing this up!

  8. Dana Tuttle says:

    You know Kelpy would be hanging onto the door frame as he has demonstrated at your house before! Haha! Now he knows how to wiggle out of a grasp as well! Love these recent articles and looking forward to your next book about these very subjects!

What do you think?