The warehouse in Melbourne is surrounded by factories and government housing blocks. It is not the place you would expect to find a gym with a banner proclaiming, “Jesus didn’t tap.”
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fitness Centre, “Renegade,” is a great example of sport at its God-designed best. Sport brings people together and provides a lens for insight into life’s deeper meaning. This story is about a gym that does both. It will inspire and challenge you to do the same in whatever area of life you find yourselves.
Renegade is a meeting place for the local community. People from all walks of life come together to train at this centre. From the Anglican Theological College students to the local Muslims living in the housing commission flats, Renegade is a focal point for community. Sport brings people together and builds relationships beyond traditional boundaries. Renegade is an example of the way sport unites all regardless of culture or creed.
The bodily temple
If the body is often described as a temple then this gym is a place of worship. Renegade is a gym faithful to building strong bodies. Grappling requires explosiveness and power. Dedicated athletes refine technique and fitness over many hours of training. Sport teaches commitment and Renegade is an example of a centre training stronger bodies.
The REAL temple
This gym represents more than these concepts. God designed sport for our benefit and for His glory. When we participate in sport it reflects these God designed attributes. In John chapter 1 Jesus is described as the Word of God that came and “dwelt among us.” The term comes from the word tabernacle, which was the meeting place between the ancient Hebrew people and God. The community would gather around the tabernacle for corporate worship. In many ways, Renegade has a similar aspect of both a physical meeting place, a place to train our earthly bodies, as well as an opportunity to worship the God that saves.
The true Temple/Tabernacle is Jesus. Through Him people come to find a true fitness. This is what Renegade offers. It points to Jesus through their Bible studies, conversations, prayers for its members and offering practical helps to those in need or the injured.
In wrestling, the aim is to try and bring your opponent to a position of submission. You search for a point of weakness in which they “tap out.” That is, they tap the mat as a sign they have submitted to the pain and acknowledge the superior strategy of their opponent. At this point, the bout is lost.
But Jesus didn’t tap. Even as Jesus faced the wrath of God and judgement for the sins of the world, Jesus did not submit to temptation and evade this sacrifice. He conquered sin and death and won the victory through His resurrection. Renegade gym points to this Good News through a banner that explains, “Jesus didn’t tap.”
Sport is more than just building bodies. It is about relationships. God uses sport to build these relationships and Renegade is a great example of the ways all these aspects come together for His glory. It truly is a remarkable centre that shines such a light into its local area.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html