Christ the Boxer
I had a dream. I saw myself in the boxing ring with Jesus. I have no use for the violent sport, but there I was, nonetheless, dressed for the occasion. The gloves I wore looked larger than life. They were red and swollen and made me look like an ancient warrior with two clubs for fists. I was angry with him. There we were: he in his corner and I in mine. The sound of a bell rang out, and in a surge of intense hatred I raced across the ring and began to rain blows at him. High levels of adrenaline propelled those blows that I aimed at his body and at his head. It seemed that all the pent up anger of a lifetime came to focus in those blows. He put up his arms to take the hits, but I just aimed my shots where there were no defenses. During this barrage, not one of his blows got through my guard. I drew blood. Soon his eyes were swollen. He staggered under my onslaught. He fell against the ropes. I hit him at will. The bell rang, and I went to my corner. I felt tired, but I felt great. He was going down next round. He was bloodied and bruised and looked exhausted.
The bell for the second round sounded, and I was on him like a tiger. I held nothing back as the onslaught continued. But soon I felt the anger abating. I felt the adrenaline receding. I began to feel the tiredness in my arms. They had been flailing non-stop, but now they were beginning to feel like lead weights. I kept on hitting him, but the hits were now ineffectual. I was running out of energy as my legs began to weaken. But the bell rang to end the round, and we both sat down, tired to the bone. I examined my body. It was unbelievable; he had not been able to hit me with one punch. There wasn’t a bruise on my entire body. He was cut in several places. His trainer was working feverishly on closing the wounds, but without success.
The third round began, and I moved towards him, but I wasn’t angry anymore. I was just tired. No, not just tired; I was afraid. I was spent. I could hardly keep my arms up. I could only paw at him with my diminished blows. And I had seen enough of the Rocky movies to know that if he had any strength left in reserve, I was a dead man. If he woke up, and took the offensive I would be in deep trouble. I could hardly move my legs or lift my arms. And then the thing I feared began to happen, he moved towards me. I began back-pedaling to stay away from his long arms. They reached out seeming to measure the distance for the fierce blow I knew was coming. But I had learned my lessons well. When tired, go into the clinches. Don’t give any space between his body and your own, so he cannot hit with any force. I moved in to hang on to him. There we were holding on to each other in the middle of the ring. I hung on to catch my wind, to regain my strength, to just stay up on my feet. And he hung on too. But the way he clutched me disturbed me. I was hanging on to protect myself; he was hanging on as if he never wanted to let me go. He hung on to me as though I were a lover, not a back street brawler. Round and round we went in this terrible embrace. Our heads were close, and I tried to bang him with my head to reopen the wounds that marked his face. But he put his cheek along side of mine as a parent does to a child who is ill, just hold it there. And then horror of horrors, he turned his face towards mine, as we shared this fierce embrace, and he kissed me. He kissed me on the forehead, and then again, on the cheek, then again on my mouth. I was horrified. What is this boxer up to? He saw the horror in my eyes, and he spoke. And I heard his words; “I love you!” I was even more scared. He held me closer and then he said it again. “I love you. I could never hurt you.” I stepped back in anger. He just stood there. His arms opened as though to receive me back into his embrace. With all of my remaining strength I swung my right fist at his head. I hit him hard. He staggered under the blow. He regained himself, and then I saw him deliberately turn the other cheek, as though inviting me to hit him again. That was the last straw.
It was then I fell to my knees, and as I did I took hold of his feet, as though hanging on for dear life, and said, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!” And he placed his arms around me and he lifted me to my feet, and said, “The fight is over. We both have won.”
It was then I awoke to the truth that he was wounded by my transgressions, he was bruised by my iniquities, but at the very same time was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities and by his stripes I was healed. God had absorbed upon himself my anger and my hurt, that I might win and be won. Thanks be to God!
Think it through
- Why have people throughout history been angry with God? (See the book by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, Death and Dying for some clues.)
- There are several psalms that express grave disappointment with God. Some of these prayers actually express anger towards God. Read the following Psalms to enter into the feelings of the songwriters of ancient Israel: 13:1-4, 44:9-26, 60:1-3, 74:1-11, 77:1-10, 79:1-13, 88:1-18, 89:38-51.
- Why would God want such prayers recorded in Scripture? Does he want us to use them as we pray our own prayers to Him?
If you find yourself angry with god, can you express it to Him? Do you trust Him enough to tell Him the truth about how you feel?
Anger is such an embarrassing emotion, that most of us never admit that we are angry, and never that we are angry with God. But since God knows us intimately, wouldn’t it be better to fight it out with God, than avoiding Him by hiding behind perfunctory prayers?
Wouldn’t God prefer we express our anger at him, rather than at our families, our neighbors, or ourselves?
For the Small Group leader
As we move towards Good Friday and the Crucifixion, What does the cross tell us about humanity’s enduring attitude towards God, and God’s enduring attitude towards us? What does the resurrection tell us about how God deals with our worst “road rage”?
Published in Light and Life , March-April, 2001.