About five years ago I went on a church mission trip to the former Soviet Union “republic”, The Republic of Georgia. At the time, I was attending an Assembly of God church, a denomination which teaches abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. However, in the Republic of Georgia the AG counterpart, the Pentecostal Union, doesn’t see it the same way.
The Republic of Georgia is grape country. Some say it’s where Noah settled and planted his vineyard mentioned in the Bible. They are known for their winemaking and serve real wine to everyone in the church during a communion service. They take the Bible literally in regards to wine. They also take the Bible literally in regards to drunkenness, which is forbidden in the Bible.
The culture of the American Church is different from the culture in the Georgian church. What we think is significant here in America differs from what the Georgian church sees as significant. One of the reasons the American Assemblies of God preaches abstinence from alcohol is because of the cultural stigma on alcohol here in America. Alcohol abuse is responsible for the breakup of many families. It’s responsible for the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of people. Alcohol abuse ruins jobs, lives, and families and I feel the AG in America is right in preaching abstinence.
When a deacon in a church is seen in public slamming down a “cold one” the Super Bowl-esque image of dancing half-naked women at a party is immediately attributed to the deacon as supporting this sort of behavior, whether or not this is a fair assessment of the deacon or not.
As Christians we are called to come out from the world’s system and behavior. We arent to be seen as a bunch of partying drunks but are called to be sober-minded, behave decently and in order, to love what God loves and hate what God hates. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world is chasing after nor what is popular in our culture, we are to abstain from the sort of things that cause us to be indistinguishable from the rest of a pagan culture.
When I attended this Assemblies of God church mentioned above one of the things that was popular among the men (and many women) was Ultimate Fighting Championships. It’s a very violent form of fighting that blends martial arts with boxing.
Whenever a UFC event was televised there was some sort of party at someone’s house in the church. On Sunday morning, UFC is what most of the men wanted to talk about. There were no men’s Bible studies, nor men’s accountability groups, nor men meeting to clean up around the church, nor anything to involve men in godly church life……but there were the UFC parties. And they were popular.
This weekend there must have been some sort of event again because all of the chatter on Facebook on Saturday was about Ultimate Fighting. My wife recounted a conversation she had with a deacon and the children’s pastor of the church where she was chastising for watching the UFC fights. Their defense was that there “There was fighting in the Old Testament”. Thus showing their ignorance as to what the context of the fighting in the Old Testament was really about.
Ultimate Fighting is violent. Men are violently bashing each other to the point of drawing blood. It’s the blood and violence that keeps these “men of God” coming back for more. It certainly could be argued that if it wasn’t for the opportunity to see the bashing of the face and the drawing of blood, no one would watch. It’s kinda like a crash in a NASCAR race.
It all kind of reminds me of something from our past…..The Roman Games.
The Roman Games…….where people would gather for the violence, the gore, and the blood. The very type of worldly events that the Apostle Paul told us to come out of and not be a part of.
God never intended for the blood and violence in the Old Testament, or anywhere for that matter, to be our entertainment. The world thirsts to be entertained by bashing violence and blood. The world gets excited when there’s slightly clad women in beer commercials. The world gets excited about the perfect creation of God being used in such a perverted and violent way.
There’s something wrong about a Christian who longs to be entertained by such bloodthirsty violence. There’s something wrong with a Christian who gets excited with a gleam in their eye about the latest match they watched of Ultimate Fighting, yet they do everything they can to avoid discussing Spiritual things.
So here’s what I suggest to those who think shows such as Ultimate Fighting make good entertainment for Christians………Get to know the God of the Bible. Put aside all of the rhetoric and your uncanny ability to use Bible verses out of context to justify your chasing after the things of the world.
Read the Bible and stop allowing the lusts of worldly Christian leaders to justify your behavior.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, ESV)
But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thess 4:10-12, ESV)
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:12-14, ESV)
The above verses, while not in the exact context of how we entertain ourselves in a media driven modern society, depict a behavior of God’s people as far different from the behavior of the world. That’s one of the reasons for all of the seemingly silly laws in the Old Testament. God wanted a people who would be different. God didn’t want a people who blended in with the culture of the times. God wanted outsiders to look to His people and see Him.
And God doesn’t bash people’s faces merely for sport.
This is one of the main reasons I call this blog Justa Sorethumb. I’m fully aware my fellow church men see me as less of a “man” because of my unwillingness to participate in things such as Ultimate Fighting. However, I feel my fellow Christian men spend an inordinate amount of time memorizing sports statistics and far too little time on discussing and learning the things of God.
My father taught me long ago that a real man isn’t one who gets tattoos, wears sleeveless shirts, guzzles beer on the sofa while spending all of his free time engaged in watching sports while his house is in disrepair and his bills go unpaid.
A real man, a Godly man, is one who works when he needs to, spends time with his family when he needs to, keeps his affairs in order and his family in order (Read Timothy and Titus), leads a peaceable life and lives his entire life as though he’s working for the Lord.
A real man stands for his principals and the things of God in spite of the direction of the world.
A real man’s free time doesn’t belong to him……in spite of what the world would have to say about that.
So “man up”, man of God, and turn the sports off for a while.