In UFC 285, the main event was the highly touted heavy-weight clash between Jon Jones and Cyril Gane. It was an event that proved to be simultaneously spectacular and underwhelming as Jon Jones proceeded to make extremely light work of his opponent. The crowd was stunned into silence. Jones, after three years away from Mixed Martial Arts had just become heavy-weight champion.
Jon Jones then proceeded to do something that is a very irrational pet peeve of mine. He placed the UFC heavyweight title belt around the shoulder of his fiancée. Colour me triggered!
Yes, I know, its Jon’s belt and he is free to do with it what he pleases but still, it often annoys me when a person who did not step into the Octagon or partake in a fight gets to parade the belt across their torso. “Take it off!” I yelled at my screen, until the thought hit me..
You know, there is an element of the gospel here, let me explain…
Much like Jones, or any other fighter, was the one who went through the weeks of intense training camps and dieting, the one who walked alone into the Octagon to take on the opponent, the one who put his body on the line, Jesus Christ was the one who took on human flesh, He alone had the capacity and ability to live that life of sinlessness that led to the ultimate showdown between Himself and the enemy, death on the cross! Jesus alone stepped into that Octagon against sin, death and the devil. The one difference here though is that Jon Jones could not in a sense lay claim to the victory alone, he worked with various fight coaches and had a team behind him. Christ, on the other hand, accomplished salvation alone!
Jon Jones’ victory was sealed by that submissive tapping out of Cyril Gane but Christ’s victory was sealed by the resurrection from the dead, death’s tapping out. The resurrection is the token of victory that we may liken to Jon Jones’ heavy-weight title belt. Now what does Jones do with the belt? He put it on his bride to be. What does Christ do with this token of victory? He bestows it on His bride, the church,
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore…”
Now, what did Jon Jones’ fiancée do to have the belt put on her? Absolutely nothing, other than a relationship with Jon Jones. What does the church, the bride of Christ, do to merit this resurrection of Christ being bestowed upon her? Nothing, other than a relationship with Christ by believing in His death and resurrection. Christ’s victory,
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15)
thus becomes the church’s victory.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — Our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
(1 John 5:4–5)
Unlike Jones’ bride to be however, the “belt” in the case of the church is not merely cosmetic. It is every whit as valid as if the church was in that very octagon against death, sin and the devil because the church, in fact was! In Christ, the church was very much in the octagon. Every blow struck upon Christ, every breaking of His body, every shedding of His blood was accomplished both for the church and by the church in Christ. In Christ’s death, the church died and in His resurrection, the church lives,
“…Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19)
Although seeing championship title belts strapped across non-combatants still triggers me (e.g. Tom Aspinall handing his interim heavyweight belt to his father), it does make it a bit more palatable to realise I am very much in the same position being an unworthy recipient of a victorious resurrection as a result of a fight fully undertaken by someone else- Jesus Christ.