Christian Cardio Kickboxing

From a long background in both the Christian faith and martial arts environments, I have often compared churches to martial arts academies that offer cardio kickboxing classes. When a martial arts academy is more concerned about filling their space with students quickly, they will often offer cardio kickboxing classes. This seems to be an easy way to get (mostly) women signed up who simply want to lose some weight and get in a good-sweaty workout. They aren’t necessarily interested in learning the traditional martial art that is taught at the academy, but are mostly concerned about finding a place for them to lose weight and feel good about themselves.

I have been fortunate enough to train in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, primarily under Crosley Gracie, where the art of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is taken very seriously. When someone visits a traditional BJJ academy, they can expect to learn the proper teachings of the martial art, and not some cardio-version of it to just give people a good workout. The same goes for actual kickboxing academies, those who are truly interested in learning kickboxing will learn how to properly: punch, kick, block, and move, so that they would actually understand what it means to participate in the sport of kickboxing. One of the dangers of cardio-kickboxing classes, is that they will often mislead its participants into believing they really know how to punch, kick, block, and move just like real kickboxers. This is really quite dangerous, because if a woman believes that she knows how to defend herself effectively based on her cardio kickboxing experience, then that belief will most likely be more of a liability to her than a help to her. She has essentially been given a false hope that will not truly stand up to a real test of self-defense.

I’m not saying that martial arts academies shouldn’t offer cardio kickboxing classes in the interest of helping people lose weight and feel better about themselves, I am just using these types of classes as an example to compare it to something that is much more significant; the Church.
Many churches today are offering the equivalent to cardio kickboxing classes at martial arts academies. They are often more concerned about growing in numbers rather than being confident in the pure message of the Gospel and Word of God. Many preachers are too concerned about offending visitors and unbelievers with what the Bible teaches, and will often focus on speaking more about pragmatic ways of being a better and nicer person than the focus being on sin and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ alone by faith alone. Many churches also place much more of an emphasis on humanitarian efforts than thoroughly studying doctrine and theology. Don’t get me wrong, Christians are supposed to be the best humanitarians in the sense of loving our neighbors as ourselves. However, I have personally seen many churches love teaching about what it means to love our neighbors, but seldom teach about what it means to love God.

Again, it is not wrong to teach how Christians are to love their neighbors, but the danger I see is the prevalent avoidance of teaching on the holiness of God and what it means to love Him first and foremost. Churches that avoid teaching what it means to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength will often find themselves changing their stances on cultural moral issues for the sake of “loving their neighbor”. This is what will inevitably happen when a church is focused more on loving their neighbor than loving God, they will allow their neighbors to dictate what is morally right and wrong, and when the pressure becomes too great, the church will almost predictably conform to their neighbor’s moral stance.

When a person walks into a martial arts academy who has a genuine desire to learn the traditional form of that martial art, they should be able to observe the students there training how they ought to. Similarly, when someone enters a church, they should expect to be able to observe how Christians ought to worship. In addition to that, when an unbeliever attends a church, they should be able to expect to learn biblical doctrine and theology from that church’s teachings, so that if they reject the Christian faith (thus rejecting Christ), they are rejecting the purity of God’s Word. If they fin that God is calling them to Himself, then they should be able to be confident to remain at that church so that they can learn from proper biblical teachings. Many people are attending churches today that are offering them teachings equivalent to cardio kickboxing classes; teachings that simply make them feel good about themselves, and tell them how to be a “better” person, without first teaching them that they are utterly depraved from their sinful nature and only redemption through the blood of Christ can make them “good”.

Similar to the woman who believes she can effectively defend herself based on her cardio kickboxing experience, those who attend churches that offer spiritual cardio kickboxing classes are deceived in the same way that when their faith is truly tested, they will find that the watered down teachings they have been receiving are inept to stand the test, and they will be left floundering and wondering why everything they learned is not working for them.

As a pastor, I am not interested in filling the church with people who have no interest in hearing Biblical teachings. I believe that when unbelievers come to our worship service, they deserve to be able to observe a group of Christians who display a reverence for God, the Bible, and what it truly means to worship this God we claim we love. Although I don’t think this will necessarily make the Church more popular, but it should at least be more attractive to those who are truly seeking an understanding of who God is, Christian or not.

Several years ago, I repented of the ways that I felt I was offering spiritual cardio kickboxing classes through my ministry philosophy and teachings. What I found was that I was not putting confidence in the purity of the Word of God to speak life into people’s lives and be a potential sword of division between those who opposed it. Instead, I was constantly trying to find ways to convince everyone that they would like the Bible’s teachings, and that resulted in me watering down the more difficult truths that are throughout Scripture (for example, the fact that loving God is an essential quality of a true Christian), and emphasizing that more acceptable teachings of “how to be a good person”.

My encouragement to both Christians and non-Christians out there, find a church that is not necessarily trying to impress you, but rather love you so much that they are not willing to compromise the message of the Gospel and the Bible so as to not offend you. When you observe their worship, it should be more apparent that they love God more than they love you being there. It should be as if their worship of God and teaching of the Bible is not dependent upon who is there and not there.

If you are reading this and you are not a Christian, the Church owes it to you not to compromise the foundation of the Gospel message, that you (like the rest of us) are a sinner who naturally is rebelling against God, and the only hope you have to escape God’s righteous judgment of your rebellion against your Creator is to humble yourself and understand that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the only One who was able to atone for your sins by dying in your place. He rose again, proving that He is God, and essentially proving that only God Himself is righteous enough to meet His own holy standard. If you place your faith in the goodness of Christ, and not in yourself, only then God can forgive you of your sins and grant you eternal life in heaven. If not, you are essentially rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness and will, therefore, pay the penalty of your sins which is eternal judgment in hell, suffering the wrath of God (John 3:16-18).

Don’t go to a church that offers you a false hope through spiritual cardio kickboxing. Find a church that offers you the real thing.

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