I Don’t Need MMA Jesus

I had a friend in college, a talented artist who worked exclusively in ink drawings of MMA Jesus. MMA Jesus almost always stood on a hill, sword in hand and maybe a lion by his side. As the name alludes, MMA Jesus was a large (most often Caucasian) man with ripped abs, bulging biceps, and super handsome. He was the whole package ladies.

MMA Jesus is worshiped in churches all over the country these days, but I had forgotten about the drawings until I was at the gym last Sunday and ran into a sign for a church that was apparently meeting in the building. And there he was…

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I wish I could track the origins of this mans man Jesus. My thought is that he probably came around in the late 90’s. No doubt there had been attempts to over-masculinize Jesus in the past and balance out the sometimes admittedly flowery language used to describe Jesus and the Jesus-following life. But in the late 90’s to early 00’s something changed. It’s probably about this time that Mark Driscoll proclaimed that church was too feminine. I think Driscoll was speaking of the actual physical appearance of the church, the decorations, but what do you expect when one of the few jobs women are allowed to do in your church is decorate. Around this time a flood of books were published having to do with masculinity and Christianity, such as John Eldridge’s ‘Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul’.

I remember reading in one of these books (it may have been WaH), that Jesus spent his days walking from town to town, so obviously he was not a frail scrawny man, but a lumber jack with legs of an oak tree. This strikes me as funny, because you know what people who walk a lot look like…

Robert_Heffernan_6377Well Robert Heffernan, Irish race walker of course! When you factor in the nutritional intake of a person in Jesus’s time, he would probably be even thinner than Robert.

Why does this matter?

It matters because the reason MMA Jesus was invented was to project on him, character traits that are diametrically opposed to Jesus’s true character. The opposite of the radical, upside-down kingdom Jesus.

Mark Driscoll says he can’t worship a guy he can beat up. What an odd metric to use in deciding what qualifies someone to be worshiped.

It looks as if we’ve turned the subversive, ‘the last shall be first and the first shall be last‘ Jesus, into ‘every other worldly leader we’ve ever seen‘ Jesus, and that should be a wake up call.

We worship the Jesus about whom it was prophesied…

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Who said…

…Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

…Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

…You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;  and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well…

This is the Jesus who did not take a life, but gave it. The Jesus who rode into town, not on a war-horse, but a donkey. The Jesus who does not yell, but speaks in a still small voice.

MMA Jesus or any other Jesus made in our image is useless to me. I need the man from Galilee, the real Jesus.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “I Don’t Need MMA Jesus

  1. This: “This is the Jesus who did not take a life, but gave it. The Jesus who
    rode into town, not on a war-horse, but a donkey. The Jesus who does not
    yell, but speaks in a still small voice.” 
    Beautifully said.

  2. Right on!  Reminds me of something Scot McKnight does.  He does a personality survey with his students early in the semester.  Then, using slightly different language in the questions, he asks them what they think about Jesus.  Turns out they always imagine Jesus as having the same personality they have.
    Pretty sure I’m guilty of this, too.  But one of the jobs of a disciple is to stop trying to shape Jesus into our image and instead be shaped into his.

  3. Well yes and no. Jesus as MMA is crazy, but Jesus did yell and was strong enough to turn over tables and run out the money changers in the temple. He could not have been too much of a wimp he carried the cross. He also said I did not come to bring peace but a sword. There is a middle ground where Jesus walks that is neither the weakling or the he-man. He is both lord and sacrifice, the ultimate servant-leader.

  4. @CS Areson I’m just seeing this, so sorry for the delayed response. I would bet that Robert Heffernan could turn over a table as well. But discussing Jesus’s physical appearance has limited benefits. The argument behind it is the danger of making Jesus in our own image. You make a good point that there is a danger is making Jesus a milquetoast figure. However I think the problem is that the pendulum has swung entirely too far in the other direction. 
    As for Jesus saying he did not come to bring peace, but a sword, he never physically picks up a sword in scripture, so we must ask ourselves what he truly meant by that, and it must reconcile with his admonishments to “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who persecute you”.

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