I recently saw an interview with Dana White, the head of the UFC (Ultimate Fight Championship). As an entrepreneur, he’s pretty impressive. He cares about his employees, his fighters, and his bottom line and backs it up with the loyalty and the investment necessary to make it the most popular full-contact combat sport in the world. I remember when boxing was just that. The “Thrilla in Manila” was the third and final boxing match between WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, and Joe Frazier, for the heavyweight championship of the world. The bout is almost universally regarded as one of the best and most brutal fights in boxing history and was the culmination of a three-bout rivalry between the two fighters that Ali won, 2–1. By all accounts, a Billion people watched as Ali took the fight. I was a Frazier fan. I grew up in Philly.
This isn’t a promotion for beating other people until they can’t stand anymore. Quite the opposite. The popularity of fighting tells us a lot about the world we live in.
Unlike in the UFC, the first fight recorded in scripture ended in someone losing his life. Able. After Mom and Dad chose to yield their will to Satan in wanting to know the difference between good and evil, things went downhill in a hurry. Cain, in all his jealousy and rage took out his anger on Able. It was an unfair fight since one of the participants wasn’t expecting any of it.
We’ve been fighting with each other ever since.
“In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”” Genesis 4:3-12 ESV
There you have it. The first fight turned into a murder scene. Did God not know where Abel was? Of course, He knew, he simply wanted Cain to fess up to what he had done and face the consequences. If you read on in the passage it appears Cain was repentant, but choices DO have consequences, and he was sent off to fend for himself.
Our sins have consequences. Starting with Adam and Eve making the choice to give in to a serpent clearly bent on deception. They took the bait. Wanting to be like God is just not an option without suffering the consequences, especially when God instructed differently. Cain followed with his own poor choice driven mostly by pride, ego, and the desire to be accepted at any cost. Abel got the short end of his madness.
The challenge here for each of us is twofold. Don’t fight God and don’t fight your fellow man. If you’re a Christ follower, you understand the difference. Cooperation with God and with our brothers and sisters is the only way to find the peace we all desire. Let the Thrilla in Manila stay there and the full-contact sport to MMA fighters.
God has called us first to love Him with everything He’s created in us. Additionally, we are commanded to love our neighbors (all of them) just the way we care about ourselves. Even more, if you read the entire story depicted in God’s Word.
Ask God for a fresh anointing of His Spirit to cut through the noise. To cut through what drives you to care more deeply about your self-interests than those of others. That may seem like a tall order in the society in which we live but it beats getting sucker punched by our bad choices and the devil himself.