Tonight is the biggest night in many years for the sport of boxing. In today’s sports tapestry that is so strongly focused on health and safety, concussions and injury, boxing is kind of caught in the middle. But tonight, the sporting world is focused on the boxing ring again, with a battle between Floyd Mayweather, a perfect 47-0 in his career and Manny Pacquiao who has been a title holder at 8 different weights. And while the boxers have both known great success in the ring, their public personas are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Mayweather has a history of run-ins with the law over domestic abuse and battery. Pacquiao, on the other hand, is beloved by his native Philippines. He has been voted into public office as a congressman and serves as a reservist in the Filipino Military.
But Pacquiao’s clean public image has not always been his lot. As you can read in this article from The Guardian, Pacquiao was a partier. He was “determined to squeeze as much fun from life as was available to someone who was born into grinding poverty.” But a few years ago things changed. Despite being raised Catholic – the predominant religion of the Philippines, when his fame and success lifted him from the grips of poverty, it also blurred the lines between godly and being worldly. But a few years ago, Pacquiao dedicated his life to Jesus and decided to use his platform to share about Christ’s love with others. He says ”
Here are my takeaways from Pacquiao’s story.
1- Go into the World – The great commission given by Jesus to his followers was to go into all the world and make disciples of all people (Matthew 28.16-20). In Acts 1.8, Jesus sends his disciples to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Now Samaria was the place of where the “enemy” lived. Jews and Samaritans did not get along. They had a strong dislike for each other, but still Jesus was sending his followers to share His love with their enemies, because He created them and loves them, too. Boxing is the most mano a mano sport that exists. It is a battle and it’s goal is to hurt your opponent more than they hurt you. But Pacquiao sees his mission and understands it. This following interview talks about how after the fight, he hopes for a chance to talk to Mayweather and “share his faith with him.” Even when talking about his enemy, he sees his mission to share God’s love with his opponent. Check it out.
2- Only God Satisfies– What I heard in the above interview is Manny Pacquiao’s story has some similarities to what Paul wrote in Philippians 4.12. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Pair that thought together with Paul’s words from a chapter earlier (Phil 3. 7-.8) Paul writes “ But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ“.
Manny has known poverty that I will likely never know, and he has also known riches that I will likely never know. But he talks about the emptiness that he felt in his life. That is something that we all know if we have lived life without Christ. He is all that satisfies. He is our purpose and our passion. He has given us the task of sharing His love with the world. He has given us our story and our platform to share Him with others. It is our choice to obey or not. Pacquiao has chosen to share his faith in God every chance he gets. I pray for courage and boldness to do the same.