Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

The Weight of Expectations

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Sep• 26•12

I don’t follow UFC (that’s Ultimate Fighting Championship) fights like I used to. Back in the day when Royce Gracie was introducing the world to the wonders of Brazilian Jujitsu, my whole family would get together to watch the fights. I also remember the crazy hype when Vitor Belfort won a fight in the octagon at 19. His punches were insane. As I was strolling through the channels with my husband on Saturday night, I got sucked into the pre-fight interviews for UFC 152. Belfort was trying to make a comeback in his scheduled match with light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

Maybe you’ve heard of Jones. About a year and a half ago, he made the news on the day of his UFC 128 match. He went with his coaches to a park in New Jersey to meditate for a while before the fight, and upon arriving noticed a distressed older couple. They had just been robbed, and the thief ran off with the GPS from their car. Jones and his coaches ran down the thief and held him until the police arrived. It makes me laugh to think of the timing of this thug, an elderly couple, and a UFC fighter in the park all at once. Anyway, Jones became an instant hero. Between this awesome display of valor and his winning record, it seemed he could do no wrong. He became the first UFC fighter to get an international sponsorship with Nike. As my daughter Zaidee says, “Kablamo!”

And then things went a little sour. Dan Henderson had to pull out of his anticipated fight with Jones in UFC 152 just nine days before due to an injury. Jones was then asked to fight a challenging opponent, Chael Sonnen. He declined the fight. I really don’t blame him. He had been training to fight Henderson. If he was going to fight his professional best against Sonnen, he would need to train amply for that. The fans were not happy. Neither was UFC president, Dana White, who then had to cancel the whole event. It wasn’t pretty.

Next there came the news of a DWI after Jones crashed his Bentley into a pole. His mom bailed him out of jail. Not good.

During the pre-fight interview Joe Rogan talked with Jones about his tarnished reputation. He went from golden boy to being booed at the weigh-in for his fight against Belfort. Jones said something that shocked me. He said that he wanted to be a good example for his fans, being in the position that he is in. But he said that it is a relief for people not to like him as much now. Jones said that now people know that he’s not perfect, and he emphasized the truth of this. He said that it was freeing for him, and he can focus on doing his job.

That really got me thinking about the weight of expectations on a Christian. When unbelievers hear that you are a Christian, they immediately begin to look for the holes in your character. This is why the gospel message is so important. If our faith is in our own morality, we are going to crumble under the microscope of the public eye. And yet, we should not lower our expectations.

Jon Jones was relieved that the public now recognizes he is not perfect. And he surely is no example of who we should aspire to be. There was only one Man who was ever perfect. And yet, this is the expectation of every Christian.

We are right to look for perfection; we long for perfection. Jesus Christ lived a perfectly righteous life. He was able to not only bear the weight of our Father’s expectations, but also the full encumbrance of our sin. Imagine that—the crushing weight of our sin on the shoulders of one Man. Who could bear it? Only our holy God. And since our sin is so reprehensible, every bit of it, Christ also bore the full wrath of God in our place. He voluntarily left his blissful communion with the Father to be cursed for our sin. In exchange, we are given his righteousness.

No, I am not perfect, but that is the expectation. My faith is in Christ’s perfect work on my behalf. He is actually making me holy. Therefore, I live in light of the person I am becoming. Right now there is a bit of a wrestling match between the flesh and the Spirit. Like Paul, I do things that I don’t want to do, and don’t do things that I do want to do. But I can be vulnerable to those who may be watching, confessing and repenting of my sin, because I know that I am a work in progress. There is only one Person to look to for salvation, for he is God and there is no other (Isa. 45:22). This message frees me to do my work, knowing that Christ will bless my efforts.

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15 Comments

  1. Helen Montgomery says:

    Thuggary! We look away from thuggary, to the simple and the harmless persuits.

    Where is the Christian spirit enjoying thuggary?

  2. Kim Shay says:

    By “perfection” you mean complete, correct? As opposed to “without flaws?”

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Kim, are you referring to Christ’s having been perfected in Hebrews 5:9? That certainly is pointing to his complete, qualified sacrifice. I am pointing to that, as well as his flawless righteousness. His righteousness is imputed to us on the basis of his complete sacrifice, so that we are being perfected. And in our glorification, we will be both flawless and complete. Is that what you were asking?

  3. Kim Shay says:

    How do you define “perfect?” The verse you quoted, has the word coming from the word teleioo, meaning to complete, to finish. I’m certain you don’t mean we expect to be perfect here on earth, i.e. without flaws. There is always a danger of perfectionism, so much so that B.B. Warfield devoted two volumes to the subject. You don’t mean that you expect to be perfect here on earth? Being completed is a process that ultimately is accomplished after our bodies have been fully redeemed. At least, that is what I understand.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Exactly, I’m saying that this is my expectation in my glorification, not now on earth. But Christ through his Spirit is sanctifying us for this sure hope. We long for perfection because that is what we were created to be. That is what we will be on the new heaven and earth, all to the glory of God!

    • Tim says:

      Interesting point Kim. I was just reading an article last night that discussed the use of the word “teleioo” in the New Testament. The author pointed out that in that time frame the word had a variety of ways to be understood. The concept of completeness was more common in the use of the word by Jewish thinkers, while moral perfection was what a Greek philosopher would have in mind. It was not exclusive in either culture, but just the way its use would likely trend.

      Strong 5046-5048 seems to emphasize the completeness more than moral perfection aspect, but cites both as occurring in the NT writings.

      Blessings,
      Tim

      • Kim Shay says:

        Hebrews 5:9 uses Strongs 5048 from what I see. Zhodiates has a note which really adds a wonderful dimension to the word, specific to its use in 5:9: “to consecrate Him by sufferings to His office.” It would be interesting to ponder how the writer of the Hebrews understood, being himself Jewish, yet living in a Greek context.

  4. Tim says:

    We do long for perfection, but why we expect to see it in some person other than God is beyond me. Everyone has feet of clay except God. Thanks for getting me to think on these things today, Aimee.

    Tim

    P.S. The UFC illustration reminds me of 1 Corinthians 9:26. Paul appears to use the boxing metaphor with approval.

  5. There will always be people who think MMA is thuggery. I don’t write about it much. I’m afraid of what people might think. I used to not be able to even see a commercial with “ground and pound” because it upset me and could trigger more depression (which is chronic for me). Then I saw the show Fight Quest where a MMAer and a military guy went around the world studying a martial art with an expert coach along with their students (different ones for each guy) for two weeks and then competing at the end. To see the training and respect everyone had for each other was a real eye opener.

    The competitors are two people who love to ‘fight’ and are trained to withstand the pain and know how to fall, get hit etc. They’re are no innocent victims, they are two warriors. We need these type of people for various types of protection. This is a way of testing their skills and rarely do they hate each other.

    Anyway, do you keep yourself from mentioning it to certain people? What do you say to Christians who believe it’s wrong? It’s great how you used it here as an illustration, even if it’s kind of indirect to MMA.

    When I first saw Jones, he was doing a lot of Judo and wrestling in the match, just throwing the guy around (and not really hurting him). Then I heard about his ‘faith’, but know not to get too excited about those things. Then I heard he’s Mormon. Now I’m not sure. He’s at least one of the more respectful guys. And the variety of skills is astounding.

    Right now the UFC is looking better than the NFL, and ironically it may be a safer sport.

    Rambling just to ask a question and make a couple of points.
    Jeff

  6. Evie says:

    Would you mind clarifying your post? What do you mean by thuggary?

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Sure, I mentioned my humor of a thug (the thief), the elderly couple, and a professional UFC fighter all being at the park at the same time. I mean, if a thief could have any more bad luck (providence) than that, right? He thought he would have an easy target with an elderly couple, but little did he know that a light heavyweight champion picked the same park to meditate right before his fight. Ha!
      But I don’t think that Helen (above commenter) was referring to the same thing when she says thuggery? I think that she is referring to the fighters.

  7. margie stemple says:

    great article!

What do you think?