The New York Times today reports that some evangelical Christian churches are reaching out to young men (and women?) who practice martial arts.
No, that's not news.
But this is news: these churches, the report notes, are offering Christian martial arts practitioners the opportunity to put some punch into their worship, a kick into their relationship with Christ.
They're offering Christian cage fighting as a worship experience.
So, instead of singing "Amazing Grace," worshipers are shouting, "Knock him out. Hit him harder. Kill him." All for Christ's sake.
Jesus heard those shouts of "Kill him" on the cross. He saw people delight in his suffering and death.
And he repudiated violence in his living and teaching. Remember? Jesus preached, "Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the humble. Blessed are the peacemakers."
What would Jesus think of "Christian" and "cage fighting" placed side by side?
Now, I'm all in favor of reaching out with Christ to all people, including martial arts practitioners. But the Christ I know and believe in, the Christ I invite people to trust themselves to is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
He is the God of gentleness and compassion, the God who makes himself known in weakness and humility--not in power. He's the God who dies on the cross for his opponents, not the god who nails his opponents and then struts around in celebration, hands upraised in Rocky-Balboa fashion.
So, Christians, evangelical and otherwise: go on reaching out to non-Christians with praise bands and cappuccino and blue jean worship and hipster clergy, but not with cage fighting, too. Please anything but that.