A pair of Indiana Pacers decided to add fistfight to the to-do list prior to the team’s second first-round playoff game against Atlanta.
Following the game, which the Pacers won, the story broke and of course there was no shortage of media members and former players chiming in on the situation.
Interestingly enough, the former players all pretty much had the same take.
Fights happen on every single team, they would say. The good teams get over it and move on towards their common goal, while the bad teams let the trouble divide them and ruin their focus.
I found that to be incredibly interesting, as well as incredibly understandable.
Whenever there’s a group of people passionately working hard towards a goal, people are bound to bump heads. It’s just part of us being imperfect creatures.
And when you really think about it, the conflict itself is rarely has as large an impact as the fallout which comes from it and how it is handled.
The church is far from absent of this pitfall. In fact, there are probably more fights within the walls of church buildings than there have ever been in NBA practice arenas.
Historically, these fights have caused a ton of division and led to about a bizillion denominations. (I didn’t count, but this seems accurate.)
I’ve always thought it was weird how many denominations there are within Christianity.
When I was little, of course I didn’t really understand what was what. All I knew was that during my brief stint as a Cub Scout we occasionally would go to what I think was a Lutheran church and the preacher would wear what looked like a Lutheran superhero costume. That was different and actually pretty cool.
Also, in the summer, we’d go to Vacation Bible School at a big Baptist church, which seemed to be about that same as the church my family attended regularly. I think they just had more cakes, which I was in support of.
Our denomination of choice was “non-denominational,” which is kind of like refusing to give your kid a name and then everyone calling him, “No-name.”
Things got cleared up slightly when I attended Bible college. From the Catholic church to Martin Luther to John Calvin, I learned all about the fights and the divisions they caused. Some seemed appropriate, many others seemed silly.
The more I studied it, the more the word “denomination” seemed to parallel another word — failure.
Failure to get along.
Failure to communicate.
Failure to keep in mine our common goal.
Failure to love each other enough to shake and make up after a good fight.
Heck, even within the non-denomination denomination, there are at least three separate bodies of believers in my town.
Actually, I take that back. There’s one body of believers that chooses to meet at three different locations on Sundays.
OK, I take that back too. There’s one body of believers that chooses to meet around the world at the bizillion locations previously mentioned each Sunday.
Isn’t this exactly how Paul told Christians in the first century not to act? I follow Apollos. I follow Paul. I’m a Baptist. I’m a Methodist. Isn’t this the same problem?
You see, the older I get, the more I feel connected to all these groups, and rightly so, I believe.
Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, etc. Don’t I have something in common with all of them? And isn’t that commonality — the belief that Jesus is the Christ, who died, rose, and cooked breakfast for his buddies on the beach — the most important of all things we could ever have in common?
Isn’t spreading that news our main goal?
And shouldn’t we focus more on our main, common goal than any of the other difference, disagreements, or fights we might have with each other?
There’s always going to be conflict. There are always going to be squabbles. There are always going to be fights.
That’s just what happens when you put a lot of hard working, passionate people in a room together.
But when those fights happen, how we deal with the fallout is the really important thing.
We can choose to let the fight divide us or we can choose to stand up, shake hands, and go forth together, focusing on our common goal.
Like it or not, we’re all on the same team and us sticking together is critical in that team’s success.