By Paul Koch –
When I first saw David Fincher’s incredible film, Fight Club, it was like watching a story fueled by my own angst and feelings of misplacement. It was similar to the first time I saw Social Distortion at the Ventura Theater; somehow in the rough voice of Mike Ness and the deafening drone of the amplified guitars, things began to make sense.
Fight Club reminded us that there was something intrinsically good in a fight. As a child it seemed as if everyone was telling me that fighting was bad, going against the grain was bad, taking a stand against the pursuits of our culture was wrong. But Punk Rock was speaking against it all.
It was the giant middle finger to everything everyone else seemed to hold up as good and respectable. And I loved it.
It was gritty. It was violent. As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club:
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
The thing is, being hit in a fight brings things into perspective. Fighting, in all its wonderful forms, is what we’ve been missing. I’ve long since grown weary of sitting in meetings behaving myself, saying what needs to be said to get along with those who think that they have power or control over my life. We have wasted too many years running from fights. It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to take a swing.
And it is in the church that I think the fight matters the most. The fight is, perhaps, not physical (though it could be). It is a fight of words and ideas. John Chrysostom in his treatise on why he should not be a priest writes, “For the shepherd of sheep has the flock following him wherever he leads: or if some turn aside from the direct path and leave the good pasture to graze in barren and precipitous places, it is enough for him to call more loudly, drive them back again, and restore to the flock those which were separated. But if a man wanders away from the right faith, the shepherd needs a lot of concentration, perseverance, and patience. He cannot drag by force or constrain by fear, but must by persuasion lead him back to the true beginning from which he has fallen away. He needs, therefore, a heroic spirit.” (On The Priesthood II.4)
Whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not, we are in a fight.
This fight starts small and grows into something that can change the landscape of things. It begins in the basement, unknown to the uninitiated, with arguments over philosophical presuppositions and valid systems of reasoning. These are crucial fights; they are how we learn to take our stand and how we gain the courage to go against the flow. Here we are reminded that it is good to challenge the premise of every bureaucrat and church growth “expert.” Here our momentum begins to build.
But the fight doesn’t remain in the basement. The fight leaves the fluorescent lit secret rooms of our theoretical arguments and impacts the real lives of our neighbors. Here we must not lose the will to fight. Here the stakes are the highest. We must fight for the proud self-confident sinner with no room for repentance, and we must fight for the broken-hearted and downtrodden. We fight not with theories or concepts but the very Words of God himself. We must take a swing to kill and make alive. We must be willing to proclaim a Word that tears down and builds up.
It’s time to join the fight.
“Fight Club was the beginning, now it’s moved out of the basement. It’s called Project Mayhem.” – Tyler Durden