So I’ve been thinking…
I’m no MMA (mixed martial arts) fan. It’s just too brutal for me. But I an avid enough sports reader that it comes across my path every now and then. Now I’ll admit that the childhood WWF fan in me still lives in a back room, so a sliver of me is intrigued by this violent sport. But I honestly don’t have the stomach to watch more than a few moments. Ask me to name five MMA stars, and I’d be stumped.
But I do know Kimbo Slice.
An entire enterprise (called Elite XC) built itself around Kimbo Slice. They hyped him as the baddest man on earth (or something like that) and played up his street fighter persona at every turn.
And at some level, it worked. Media heads turned and some pay-per-views were purchased.
But two weeks ago, it all came crashing down. Kimbo got knocked out in 13 seconds by an MMA nobody. And the myth was shattered.
Kimbo may have been a significant street brawler in his day. But he’s never been a quality MMA fighter, and now that was public knowledge.
The illusion was over.
You can’t go a day without hearing some reference to the American (and tied to it, the Canadian) economy.
At a recent lectureship I attended, an older American man put the situation out on the table. He said, “You know why the American economy is in trouble? Because it’s filled with greedy people and liars.”
He went on to speak of mortgage brokers and banks who pushed/allowed home-buyers to take out ridiculously sized loans, and of home-buyers who insisted on buying houses worth twice the price range they SHOULD have been browsing. But they did it, trusting that the market would continue to climb and that they could sell “their” homes, into which they hadn’t even put a down payment, for a profit.
And values did go up… for a while… until the bubble popped. And when the illusion vanished, cold and hard reality bit like a viper. And the biting’s not done yet.
The whole thing had been inflated.
Inflated: elaborated or heightened by artificial or empty means; being hollow and enlarged or distended.
It looked like something, but the something it looked like… it wasn’t real.
So there’s Kimbo Slice. And there’s the economy.
And there’s me.
I’m part of a small group right now. We’re studying our Bibles. We’re praying for and with others. We’re meeting each week and working through a workbook. After one week, what’s stuck out in my mind most is the need for real substance.
Our first two memory verses…
Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
John 15:5: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”
A couple thoughts on an inflated self…
1) Church-goer, nice guy, decent fellow, even “Christian” (a diluted word in my time and place) can be labels used to cover up the main issues: Am I denying my selfish desires? Am I carrying my cross? Am I following in the steps of Jesus?
And the questions must be answered, because to build upon anything less… well, the word “inflated” comes to mind along with an image of that economic bubble popping.
2) Lives filled with religion (however that looks in any given instance) can quickly be substituted for the real deal. Most casual observers won’t even see the difference. I can even live in this illusion, seemingly blinded to it… for a time. At some point, the car realizes it’s not running on real fuel. Its sad sputtering sounds tip me off. And a verse like John 15:5 demands that an inventory be taken. Question #1: Am I even connected to Jesus Christ? Because if I’m not, call me Kimbo.
And as Kimbo found out, all the hype in the world doesn’t turn one thing into another. It’s about true substance or it’s about nothing at all.
I’ve been blessed recently by having my substance tested. It’s been found wanting.
And that’s been good for me to feel.