Emiliano Martinez, the 6’4” tall, Argentine Goalie, faced 14 penalty kicks in the Penalty Shootout stages of the 2022 World Cup. He made six saves. One kick went wide. This kind of success rate in saving penalties is simply phenomenal! Swaroop Swaminathan explains what makes Martinez successful: “He is probably the world’s best because of his confrontational style. You can argue it makes for ugly scenes but research has held that putting extra pressure on the spot-kickers does have the desired benefit. Extra pressure here includes everything from engaging in some trash talk to making the players wait…Against both sets of players (France and Netherlands) at the World Cup, his usual shenanigans were visible. Either speaking with them or trying to shake hands or celebrating wildly. Before Aurelian Tchoumeni’s kick, he actually threw the ball away, forcing the youngster to wait longer.”
Martinez’ tactics reminds us of a key Christmas truth. We too must have an confrontational, combative attitude when it comes to fighting Satan who tried to kill the Christmas baby Jesus through Herod (Rev. 12:4). This Revelation 12 Christmas chapter climaxes with this verse where there is a clarion call for Christ-followers to keep battling the Devil: ‘Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and host fast their testimony about Jesus’ (Rev. 12:17). This battle between believers and the dragon will go on till the day of judgement which is talked about using the earth swallowing imagery (Rev. 12:16).
The believer has multiple enemies during his wilderness journey: the world, the flesh, the Devil, false teaching. And the believer must show the kind of aggressiveness that Martinez showed against Netherlands and Argentina during the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup, against these enemies! Peter’s call to wage war against the flesh is memorable: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11). We have to wage war not only against the enemy of the flesh, but also the enemy of Satan, the World and False Teaching! Christmas is not just about a celebration! It is also about a collision against the Devil, the World, the Flesh and False Teaching!
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