Saturday afternoon, between sessions of chasing our son off the fireplace ledge, I caught a repeat of one of my favorite sports documentaries. It is the ESPN “30 for 30” piece on the 1980 rematch where Sugar Ray Leonard challenged Roberto Duran for the welterweight title.
For those unfamiliar with the fight, it was a rematch that came roughly five months after an initial fight that saw Duran upstage Leonard to win the championship. The match, and the hype surrounding it, demanded a quick rematch, which took place in New Orleans.
It was a match that was dominated by Leonard’s quick moves that took Duran off his game, which was more of an aggressive style of boxing. He had no answer for Leonard. So much so that in the eighth found Duran gave up. He quit. He did so by uttering those famous words of “no mas.” No more. Duran had all he could take – later claiming he was sick with cramps – and walked away from the fight and his championship. Leonard was declared the winner by TKO.
As I reflect upon that match, I cannot help but think how we can be like Duran. We have the tendency to say “no mas” when faced with difficult challenges. We would rather not deal with difficult personalities or unwelcoming individuals. We would rather say “no mas” to financial problems, family struggles, or a whole list of obstacles that we may face.
This is true not just in our personal lives, but also in regards to our relationship with Christ. When things get tough or overwhelming it is easy for us to walk away from Christ and say “no more.” The reason is that we believe our faith in Christ promises us an easy life that is void of various challenges and difficulties. We buy into this belief so much that when difficulties or temptations arise, our faith is weakened and we end up, sadly, walking away.
We all face the temptation to say “no more,” but what might we do in response. John 15:4 gives us some guidance. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (NLT) What does he mean? We must find ourselves deeply dependent upon the love of Christ in all things. Remaining in Christ is about a relationship that is renewed daily by a desire to grow in our fellowship with God and our yearning to be directed by the Lord’s love.
As we remain in Christ, we will see that Christ’s love and grace is all around us strengthening us in preparation for our challenges. Remaining in Christ reminds us that there is never a moment that we are alone. We face the challenges in life with Christ going before us, beside us, and behind us. God is always present.
It is not easy to remember this, nor is it easy to continually remain in our relationship with Christ. It is a relationship that requires us to do the things necessary to promote spiritual growth that allows us to remain upon the vine of Christ’s love. This includes prayer, Scripture reading, being in fellowship with other believes, serving, and other spiritual disciplines. As we take on these things, we will see that our relationship with God is strengthen and we are better able to withstand the temptation to say “no mas” in difficult moments.