We all win with God’s grace

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I知 a sports fan, always have been, always will be. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, you name it, if there痴 competition then count me in. Something about healthy competition gets me excited, gets me motivated, gets me to strive for goals that I may not strive for otherwise.

I played football all through middle and high school and truly enjoyed the experience. Football helped me develop courage especially when my opponent was bigger, faster, and stronger than I was. Football built my character in ways I am grateful for.

Like I mentioned, I知 a sports fan, and one of the fastest growing sports of the 2000s has been mixed martial arts, otherwise known by its abbreviation, MMA. MMA is a combat sport which allows all types of martial art disciplines inside the arena or 登ctagon. Fighters can win via knock out, technical knock out, submission of an opponent, or judge痴 decision.

This past weekend witnessed the most anticipated fight in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the world痴 largest MMA promotion). UFC 229 featured the Lightweight World Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov take on the most popular fighter on the planet and former champion Connor McGregor. Nurmagomedov hails from Dagestan, Russia, while McGregor is from Dublin, Ireland.

The fight was billed and promoted as a grudge match between the two MMA giants. The calm and collected, methodical and soft spoken Nurmagomedov who is a world class wrestler and judo champion against the brash, pompous, defiantly arrogant McGregor who himself is a world class puncher. It was an event which the script initially read more like a Hollywood story than anything else.

Neither of these fighters likes each other, and the bad blood between the two (which spans several years) recently came to a head when McGregor attacked a bus that Nurmagomedov was on at a UFC event this past spring. McGregor faced legal penalties as a result of his antics.

In the lead up to the fight, both men said that they would not touch gloves at the beginning of the bout (an act of sportsmanship) and McGregor who had incessantly ridiculed Nurmagomedov痴 religion, family, and nation went on to say that there will never be peace between the two. McGregor said, 典here will never be peace here. I always say you should aim for peace but if you can稚 aim for peace, aim between the eyes. I知 gonna aim right between that man痴 eyes and this is never over. Never, ever, ever, over.

As it turned out Nurmagomedov would wind up dominating the fight and retain his Lightweight World Title by submitting McGregor in the fourth round. Yet the real fireworks came in the aftermath of the bout, where there was chaotic brawling between the two camps that resulted in several arrests and will undoubtedly result in fines and suspensions for one or both of the competitors.

As I sit here at my desk and write this brief article, I can稚 help but think about how McGregor said that there would never be peace between the two men, ever. That痴 sad, and in my opinion, a tragedy. Those are strong words to toss around. Words like that and attitudes like that reveal something about a person痴 character.

It also makes me rejoice in the truth that God doesn稚 have this attitude towards humanity

If ever there was someone who would be entitled to hold a grudge and refuse forgiveness, it would be God (holy and righteous and perfect) in relation to humanity (rebellious and sinful).

But that is not the character of the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is a God who 電oes not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities, (Psalm 103:10). This is most clearly manifested in God sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sin-bearer and Savior of the world. We can know love and forgiveness only because of Jesus Christ. Christ痴 love goes so far for us that the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that 敵od shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were enemies of God He gave His Son for us. Truly, love has seen no greater display than Jesus Christ on the cross. And it痴 because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross and triumphant resurrection three days later that we can have peace with God through faith in Christ.

I知 grateful that God doesn稚 have an attitude towards us as these two MMA fighters have towards each other. I知 not writing to pass judgment on either of these two men, I haven稚 walked an inch in their shoes, and I have no idea what has transpired between them to the extent that reconciliation in their minds is out of the question.

What I do know is that God offers reconciliation to all who come to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I知 confident that when we approach God in faith, He absolutely will reveal Himself to us in truth. 擢or God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life, (John 3:16).

Brandon Herron is lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Sandpoint. He can be reached at firstbaptistsandpoint.org or 208-263-3625.

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