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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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Insidious Invitation to be a Pugilist

Taken by Johann Walter Bantz, from Unsplash

I receive many odd invitations. Sometimes it might be because I’m odd, but other times Im not sure of the reason. A few weeks ago I received an invitation in my College email. I don’t know whether it was because of my physical prowess (unlikely) or something generated by an algorithm due to a search I did (possibly), or for some other reason. Anyway, here’s how the email started:

Hi Colin,

Ever imagined yourself in the ring, gloves on, in the spotlight, the crowd roaring…

Colin, Colin, Colin…

Join an unforgettable boxing experience, where you will train for 10 weeks under the careful eyes of boxing pros and then experience a fight night event at an iconic venue to support charities such as the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Black Dog Institute.

Now, I have no problem supporting charities. An important Biblical guideline that has roots early in the Old Testament is to give 10% of your income to support people in need, as a way of thanking God for all he has provided for you. (You can check that out in Deuteronomy 26:1-15.) That guideline works to keep me, at least, from getting too caught up in material things. But back to the email invitation…

This isn’t for seasoned boxers. It’s for office warriors like me and you. Regardless of shape, size, or background, everyone gets their moment of heroic glory.

Past champions hail from companies such as AMEX, EY, DB, Deloitte, and KPMG. Colin, are you and your company next?

(Hmmm…my company? Not sure I should answer this email on behalf of the whole College without checking in with Mr Koch…)

We are now recruiting for our next Sydney session (starting on Monday March 25th), with training locations in Surry Hills and Smithfield. 


Josh King, Owner at Corporate Fighter

And then contact details, and that was the end of the email, except, of course, for the usual opt-out: To stop receiving messages from us, simply reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.

If you’re a Stage 6 Business Studies student, I’m sure you’ll have noticed the idealistic elements of the sales pitch as you’ve read so far. There’s “the crowd roaring…an unforgettable experience…an iconic venue…for people like you…a moment of heroic glory…”.

It might not surprise you to know that interest in boxing cannot be generated in me by such rhetoric, however eloquent. But put the particulars of pugilism aside for the moment, and imagine…the spotlight on you, the crowds roaring your name. Who doesn’t want that? Tell me the person who went to a Taylor Swift concert without secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) wishing that you could have had a taste of the fan adoration that TayTay gets. (Aside: I hope TS never learns what her nickname means in Tagalog– it’s not particularly flattering.)

So what do I do make of an invitation to gain some “heroic glory” and have crowds roar my name? I reflect. In such an invitation there are unmistakable echoes of the invitation for humans to become like God in the earliest pages of the Bible. You might recall the detail: the tempter tells the humans that God is just a nasty type who doesn’t want anyone else to share his limelight. “Make a name for yourself”, he says to Eve. “You do you”, not what God tells you.

And in the earliest pages of the New Testament, to the delight of pattern-seeking historians, we get a repeat of history. The tempter invites Jesus to abandon his God-given purpose and instead to elevate his own profile. “Work a miracle”, he says, and then “Test yourself and God’s care for you” leads into the final challenge: “worship someone other than God.”

And twenty centuries later, it’s déjà vu. Who would give to those in need? Not many. But who would drum up support for those in need if in the process you prove your own prowess, even at the cost perhaps of turning the lights off for someone else? Answer: lots more. So the invitation to help others comes from Corporate Fighter couched in terms of making a name for yourself. The temptation is to do anything to elevate your status. More people will bite at that, the PR people know, and so they trust in the dark desires of human hearts to bring some help to the Starlight and Black Dog kids. Clever marketing.

How do we operate in a world that increasingly says “you do you” and “make a name for yourself”? The challenge to us is to do better than step into a ring to go toe to toe with another human and prove ourselves – that’s just the juvenile default for teenagers going through puberty. The real challenge is to come face to face with the living Godnow and to let that encounter change the way we live and the decisions we make. Responding to God is a YOLO life-changing thing (Hebrews 9:27) that gives confidence on a different level to “10 weeks under the careful eyes of boxingpros.

The best thing we can do is to accept the status granted us by God – the one who gave us existence and gave us his Son. Let’s resist the temptation to get into any situation with the hope that people call out our name. Rather, listen to God when he calls, and let other siren calls fade in relative importance.

Want to think more? Take a few minutes to listen and reflect on Casting Crowns’ excellent lyrics in Only Jesus.

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