Why do people end up falling out spectacularly? One reason is that we love a good drama. We enjoy the tension of a story line, the mild peril of whether or not the hero will survive, the brain stretching challenge of solving a problem, the happy ending for the good guys -who we identify with and judgement for the bad guys. Theatre, cinema and TV hook us in on that basis. They know all the tricks to keep us engaged and watching.
However, even better than watching a drama is getting to be part of it, especially when we can be the heroes at the centre of the story. In fact, if we are honest, the desire to be at the centre of the drama can lead to us choosing to be the villains in our own soap operas rather than ending up as bit part actors.
I think this can also be a reason why churches end up in a mess from time to time. When we stop looking outwards and experiencing the joy of conversions and baptisms, we begin to look for the drama elsewhere. Conflict in church gives me the opportunity to be at the centre of my own mini-drama. I get to choose whether I will be the hero who sorts everything out or the villain who disrupts and gets equal attention. A good fall out provides a rich source of material for months of gossip.
When we fall into this kind of trap, we forget that we are already part of a much greater drama. The drama is the great story of the God who has made a beautiful world, where his creatures have rebelled against him, yet in mercy and compassion instead of punishing and destroying them, God himself has stepped in to the story to rescue his people. It is the story of life’s victory over death, forgiveness over sin, good over evil all through Christ’s victory over Satan. Love wins because Jesus wins.
What an incredible drama, what a wonderful story. Of course, in this story, we don’t get to take centre stage. Jesus is the hero and the focus is all on him. Yet, this is a far more beautiful story, a better drama and the only one with a guaranteed happy ending. And there we are in the middle of it, not the hero but the bride of the hero, made beautiful by him and loved by him.
If you find yourself constantly falling out with others or if your church is lurching from crisis to crisis, maybe it is time for you to put aside your own mini dramas and rediscover the wonderful drama of the Gospel.