“Coming Off The Ropes” Through Accountability

Bain Hamilton holding his pledge pin

PHI  Greek letter uppercase Phi.svg

“Guess what?” Bain Hamilton asked our group text along with the picture above holding his pledge pin. To which my brother Keith replied: “Please tell us you came off the ropes!” Bain did in fact “come off the ropes,” a tagline borrowed from childhood. It refers to WWE wrestlers in a tag-team match. Once tagged, a contender could only jump into the arena by coming off the ropes. For a recently founded not-so-secret fraternity named PHI, it means tangibly sharing the sweetness of Jesus with others on a weekly basis, or else…

PHI is the name a group of dads came up with for our not-so-secret fraternity. It’s the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet, and symbolizes the perfect number, or what some refer to as the Divine Proportion. 

PHI first got traction after a Wednesday Night Bible study. Our conversation, like most conversations these days, naturally turned to our heartache over the current state of affairs. Followed by conviction, because we all want change but are doing little to bring it about. Worst of all, we had just spent the previous hour studying the greatest driving force of change, Scripture, which is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:16) And yet admittedly, we weren’t utilizing it. 

Even Gandhi saw the contradiction: “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”

What we needed was accountability, without which our dad fraternity would be a fun conversation piece for a few weeks, then fade as quickly as it was founded. For added motivation, metal pledge pins, or “swords of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesians 4:17) would only be awarded to men who “got off the ropes” the previous week. The Psalmist himself taught “God’s word runs swiftly,” we therefore concluded it would be wrong to bind that which was meant to run. Our ground rules barred “can you come to church with me” as a sole method of personal evangelism. If, for example, a brother like Bain has a working-relationship with whomever he’s talking with, why in the world would he punt away his responsibility to someone else? 

In fact, here’s how Bain explained a recent evangelistic opening to a group of dads. They wanted to hear more about this PHI thing we’re so excitable about. 

We’re experiencing the Joy of The Lord lately by sharing Jesus with all sorts of folks we come across. We’ve called it “being stuck on the ropes” when we quench the Spirit and don’t share. And “coming off the ropes” when we do. The more you do it, the more you become sensitive to looking for opportunities. Yesterday the Good Lord pricked my spirit to share Christ with two furniture installers. I explained how my sword is like a pledge pin, a reminder I keep in my pocket to share the sweetness of Jesus with others each week. I asked if they’d be willing to hear me out, then shared how they too could come to know “Christ and Him crucified.” I wrote down my life verse on paper and left with each: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) Men, it has been far too long since I’ve evangelized others, and it felt really good. Thus, the meaning of PHI.

As for any reading this, if you were to attend our version of a rush party, a goofy concept no doubt, as a rushee interested in learning more, getting a bid, or starting a chapter of your own (ladies we desperately need a PHI sorority), our spill would go like this:

Henry David Thoreau said “It is not enough to be busy…The question is: what are we busy about?” A window for the Gospel’s advancement has blown wide-open. Our not-so-secret brotherhood is busying ourselves by running through it. The Apostle Paul has spoken for us, “woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.” (1st Corinthians 9:16) This once-in-a-lifetime opening to share Jesus with the outside world could close at any moment. May we suggest you not get hung up outside the arena. Jump in the ring with the rest of us and fight like heck for the sake of Christ. In a phrase, “get off the ropes” because we, as well as a dying world, desperately need you.“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly. Who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions. Who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place will never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” —Theodore Roosevelt