We have an interesting ritual here in Bishop around this time of year. It takes place at the county fair and is known as the Destruction Derby. Perfectly operational, albeit battered vehicles are paraded into the arena awaiting the opportunity to engage in battle in an attempt to annihilate each other. They ram and batter each other in multiple contests until only one remains mobile. Often that car is severely damaged with a broken bumper, punctured tire, leaking steam, or perhaps only able to maneuver in reverse, but it is declared “the winner,” if for no other reason than it can still move.
A raucous good time to be had by all in the context of entertainment and to be expected in the arena, and that sort of behavior is fine and well in the sporting arena but it sure takes on a shameful air in light of the Church, and all too often is evidenced in the posture among the elect of God as denominations “take off their gloves” and go at it, as believers beat each other up on a regular basis and then “have nothing to do with each other,” as Christians engage in “no-holds-barred” brawls within the walls of His Church.
Paul addresses this in Galatians 5:13-15, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
Paul is saying that we have been given freedom in Christ but that should not be without boundaries, in fact that freedom should be directed toward loving and serving those in the body. Apparently, the Galatians were having difficulty doing this. Rather, they were biting and devouring one another. Paul says, “Yeah. You can do that, but the end result is annihilation.” The end result is a battered Bride of Christ whose wounds are self-inflicted.
In the Destruction Derby of the Church, we have many “vehicles” that are inoperable. Some are on fire, some have flat tires, many are reduced to paralyzing immobility, all due to efforts initiated from “friendly” fire; a sad picture indeed! And yet there is one car limping around, shooting steam, dragging a bumper in the dirt. As fun of a scenario as that may be at a county fair, it is a sad portrait when it represents the Church of Jesus Christ to a viewing world. The shame is on us when we behave this way, as it is a horrible witness to the world, and a bad reflection on Christ.
If anything, Church should be a “Construction” Derby; we are called to build up one another, not tear down. Ephesians 4:16 tells us we have a responsibility as the Body to have a “proper working of each individual part, (which) causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
I have to ask, “Are we anywhere even close?” Do unbelievers in the world look upon the true Church of Christ and see us as freak-show mutilation event, or the true rich, loving representation of the Church which Christ promised to build?
We can do better. It’s your serve! Let’s get it in gear!