Even Tattooed Wrestlers Can Become Christians | Examiner Glen Innes
As a kid growing up in the 1990s, I was a huge wrestling fan.
It’s not wrestling like what you might find at the Olympics, which is all about skill and competition. I was a fan of the variety of entertainment. The kind that results are predetermined in and what really matters are the cheesy stories and the superior characters. And a character has always stood out for me. The entrepreneur.
Standing over two meters tall, bulging with muscles and covered in tattoos, The Undertaker was a giant even by professional wrestling standards.
Still, what really made The Undertaker stand out was how cool his character was. Often presented as the “Deadman,” his character was a dark and mysterious figure who possessed supernatural abilities that often drifted into the realm of the occult.
I have to admit, then, that I was somewhat surprised recently to find out that Mark Calaway, the man behind the character, is now a Christian. Notice the way he talks about his coming to faith, I suspect Calaway is just as surprised!
Growing up in a nominally Christian environment where he attended a Catholic school, Calaway had a vague belief in God who, by his own admission, played no role in his daily life. But when his wife Michelle invited him to come to his church, he began to see that his image of God was very different.
At first he politely declined the invitation, saying, “I’m going to go in there and the rafters will start to shake … I believe in God, I’m fine.”
Yet she persisted and in time he agreed to leave.
He remembers being nervous as he was about to enter the building for the first time. Looking at his tattoos, and considering the character he was famous for, he thought “the pastor is going to see me and he is just going to throw fire and brimstone at me.”
His experience was none of these.
“I went there reluctantly, but once I got there I found myself going from a tension and a reverie to some kind of addiction and saying, ‘Wow, c ‘is pretty cool.’ It started my journey. “A journey that led Calaway to a deep and living faith in Jesus Christ.
All that said, I have to admit, I feel a little stupid that my first response to Calaway’s faith was surprise. After all, I have spoken with countless people who thought they understood God and decided that this whole church thing was not for them. People who, after digging a little deeper, were surprised by the real Jesus. I even had the joy of watching what happened to a few people.
Jesus is, after all, a surprising God. He is not the God we might imagine if we were trying to figure out what God should be for ourselves. If we can move past the ideas and preconceptions we might have, and seek out the real Jesus, we find someone much more amazing, gracious, and life-changing than we might begin to imagine.
As for Calaway, a few years after truly meeting Jesus, he freely admits, “I’m not perfect, I’m still in my process, I’m getting there.”
Like all of us, he still has a lot to discover about who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. The difference is that now he recognizes him and tries to get to know Jesus better. And it’s exciting to see what God is doing in the life of one of my childhood heroes and to remind me that God continues to do that work in the lives of countless others around the world. Even in these, we might find the most surprising.