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On Sports and Spirituality: Even Heroes Fail

Updated on December 11, 2012

And so my boxing champ got knocked out. At a time when I thought that he was past the stage of being knocked out, behold, it happened. He just laid there.

This brought about a lot of realization.

1. I can’t always win - at least in this world. But a time will come when all I have is victory.[1]

2. But for now, while I’m still here, I have a living hope: That though I fall, fail and falter, I can still recover.

For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (Proverbs 24:16 NIV)

I may get knocked out, but I can get up again.

3. Winning is time bound.

I guess my champion is getting old - we all are. One can only win for so long, and for a time. This body doesn't last forever. But again, a time is coming when I’ll have a glorified body. And it won’t be for sports! Oh no, but for so much better - for worship.[2]

4. A distinction between differing faiths: Christians and Catholics.

It’s amazing how people can be prejudiced - even those close to us, the very ones that we love. But no worries, God knows exactly what’s going on.[3]

It takes two to tango, and also two to fight. when one doesn't retaliate or react, then the other who started bickering gets all the attention - be it good or bad publicity. It’s better that way than be arguing on spotlight.

5. Encountering the Presence of Jesus vs. the Principles of Christ.

Here’s a view from a Bible-Christian observer:

Before the man gave his life to the Lord, he worked out and trained excellently. But now that he’s in the Lord, he got all faith and less work.

However, the Bible explicitly said that ‘faith without works is dead.’[4] It is wrong to believe that just because one is now in the Lord would mean life is ‘a walk in the park.’ In reality, taking into account all the evil forces buffeting us, it’s actually harder - to a point.

We really don’t expect God to take sides, do we? He is on His own side.[5] Boxing is a physical game. The one who is more skillful with more stamina and strength wins.

This is no contest like that of the Prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal, with whom the god who answer by fire is the greater god.[1 Kings 18] God is not our servant; He is not a genie in a lamp that beckons to our mutterings. We should not forget our place. We are the ones who bow down, not Him.

And here’s a view from a traditional Catholic observer: (As seen in the news)

The man changed religions, neglected the rosary - beads and all, and got knocked out. Plus the notion of born-again pastors flocking towards him for prayer and love-gifts, the man appeared to be pulled away from training into Bible studies.

Oops. It seemed like the man overdid it. But I don’t know the whole story…

The point is 'I am not his judge.' I don't point fingers and judge his lifestyle. He is as human as me. But we can all learn together.

6. An example of graceful defeat and gentlemanly ceding.

Ending the year in defeat is not something we can all live by. Thank God there’s always the New Year. One good thing, though, for Sir Manny, after he picked himself up the floor, he can also pick up a million bucks. But for the rest of us, we only pick ourselves up. And for those who are in the Lord, that is enough – and an anticipation of a creative miracle of nothing into something.

But what The Man reminded us is about the unquenchable Filipino spirit in the midst of crisis and shame. We have this uncanny ability to smile and be humorous about almost every situation. We don’t suffer any ‘psychological knockouts’ and prolonged depression. Life goes on, because boxing is more fun in the Philippines.


Footnotes/Bible verses:

[1] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelations 2:7 NIV)

[2] (Psalm 102:18 NIV) Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD…

[3] And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. (Malachi 3:18 NIV)

[4] In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17 NIV)

[5] Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" (Joshua 5:13-14 NIV)


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