And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony; they loved not their lives unto the death (Revelation 12:11).
So I just cashed a check and it reminded me of a friar named Ignacio from one of my favorite movies, Nacho Libre. In the movie, Ignacio “Nacho” has a fascination for wrestling and teams up with Steven “Esqueleto” to compete in a novice wrestling match. Ignacio has high-hopes for his career as a luchador, but during their first match he and Equeleto are utterly humiliated by a more experienced wrestler. Even though they lose match after match they still get paid. But their sweet reward turns sour.
“I don’t wanna be paid to lose! I want to win!” Nacho tells Steven, “It sucks to be me right now.”
Now, I can totally see where Ignacio is coming from. Starting a new job at an alternative school for troubled middle and high school students has a way of humbling you. I’m sure that everyone can relate to the familiar feeling of defeat.
RISE (ironically, that’s the name of the school where I work) is a direct answer to my prayers and exactly what the doctor ordered to put to death my pride and impatience. But at the end of most days, I came out of school a little sore (my ego takes a heavy beating). The kids go home and I go home feeling like I just got my butt whooped by Silencio or Dynasty or some other goofy luchador from Nacho Libre. I lost. To my sinful self. To my pride and my impatience. To my shame.
So for several weeks the Lord has had me stuck on the death of Jesus Christ. The event that shook all of history 2000 years ago. A woman from my aunt’s church taught me a simple song on the guitar based on Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and the life that I live in the flesh I live through the faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” I went back into the ring. “You’re dead,” I told my old self as I pinned her shoulders to the mat, but before I knew it I lost again.
“You said you didn’t want an easy job,” says my mom. She massages my hand.
“I did,” I say and wince as her thumb rubs over a knot, “I still do.”
But I don’t want to be paid to lose; I want to WIN. Does it not say that we will over come by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony? I’m starting to re-evaluate this whole luchadora-thing when it hits me: Jesus didn’t rise from the dead for this! He didn’t rise from the dead so we could wallow in self-pity. He didn’t rise from the dead so that we could stay stuck in our lives of sin. He rose so that we could rise victorious WITH HIM. It’s at this moment that I high-five Jesus Christ into the ring to take my place. This is his fight after all. And it’s already been won.
Scripture Verses for the Struggle:
1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:1-4).
2. Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
3. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-5).