When There Are Disputed Champions

In my childhood I found sport fascinating to watch.

My Dad wasn’t that fascinated in sport at all and the only one he really paid attention to was athletics. One of the sports that I was interested in was boxing. As with other sports I got into, I read some history on the subject and the received wisdom of the time was that Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time. He fought at heavyweight level and so I took that division as the one of greatest interest.

This was the time when Mike Tyson became established as the heavyweight champion. I’m very young at the time that Tyson wins and all that I see of him is a dominant champion who collects all the belts and becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. To me that’s all that mattered in the sport – becoming the undisputed champion.

When Tyson fell, so did my interest in the sport. For all the boxers that followed at various weights, the sport didn’t pique my interest. There were too many belts, too many disputes, too many facades and not enough truly convincing characters living up to what it was to be the undisputed champion.

What I notice these days is that in life people don’t operate as though there is an undisputed champion in their lives. There are various competitors all claiming to be the champion. Sometimes it’s the family. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s the pursuit of power. Sometimes it’s the pursuit of security. Sometimes it’s the desire for comfort. They might appear similar to some, but there’s enough competition between at any given time that there seems to be undisputed champion.

What’s all the more intriguin in the world of those who follow Jesus, is that He is put forward as being that undisputed champion. He certainly has done enough to be that. No one and nothing has what He has. He is matchless in that aspect. He has conquered all before Him including significant contenders like pride, fear and death itself.

Yet typical of us as people, we still muddy the issue. It becomes clouded by approaches to faith that sees Jesus as being more of an enabler than the undisputed champion. It’s more about what He does for us and how He serves us and how He is for our benefit more than anything. So if something bad happens then there’s questions over His status. If things don’t work out as I want, then His status is under the spotlight.

Why my interest in Jesus has not waned – very much unlike boxing – is that my circumstances never affects His status. Not only does it not affect His status, it does not change His character. He is no less loving when I doubt Him. He is no less faithful when I lose faith in Him. He is no less gracious, compassionate and merciful in all my faults and failings. He is no less righteous, just and holy in all the suffering, injustice and selfishness that surrounds this world.

He remains the undisputed champion.

(Photo by bimo mentara on Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake


C. L. J. Dryden

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