This is from Rod Dreher and takes its jumping off point from an evangelical church that is holding mixed martial arts (MMA) viewing/fight nights. The Fight Club for Jesus title is kind of funny, but the larger point is not just to ridicule the impulse. Rod takes the efforts as good faith actions to address a perception.
The Lutheran emphasis is law and gospel. Law is the requirements of God that we can’t keep. Gospel is what God does for us in Jesus. We will even talk about active and passive righteousness. Active Righteousness is the outward keeping of the law, but that active righteousness does not earn you anything. Salvation, justification or absolution is a gift. We receive it passively through faith in Christ. Passive will never make anyone’s list of masculine virtues.
Yet Christ ordered us to pick up our cross and follow him. That is an odd mixture of active and passive. You get nailed to a cross. (Mel Gibson’s line in his current flick – you need to choose if you are the one on the cross or the one pounding the nails – comes to mind.) Yet especially in the Gospel of Luke which we are reading this year – Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). Jesus chose the cross. He put himself on the cross. And he tells Christians to do the same.
The world would like to tell us that religion is for wimps – all that talk about compassion and love and what-not. But scratch below the surface. The call of Christ is to be a full person. Don’t be conformed to the easy road of callousness and the whims of your body and mind. Instead, with the intervention of the Spirit, bend and shape yourself in the proper ways. Pick-up your cross and follow. Justification is passive, but the Christian life, especially in this world, is active. I don’t know if MMA for Jesus is really bending our wills in the proper direction, but recovering that dare I say it Wesleyan sense of active struggle for holiness is important. We co-operate in our sanctification and it is a daily activity. I am that sinful a person. The laws of God are good. Jesus came to fulfill them, not to abolish them. By fulfilling them he secured my salvation, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. They are still the task before us.
As an add on as part of the numbers that we track, I look at the male/female ratio in our worship. There are many different puts and takes, especially in an active and growing but smaller congregation a couple of people can make a big difference in the percentages. I’m not really sure what to make of this type of statistic if anything should be. Any thoughts?
Active Attendance Attendance
14586 Roster 2010 2009
Male 50.1% 44% 53.0% 45.4%
Female 49.9% 56% 47.0% 54.6%