The Gospel According to “Wipeout”

Every so often something comes along that causes you stop everything you’re doing and burst out in spontaneous praise to God. For me, one such recent event was the night I came across the ABC show “Wipeout”.  I mean, all it took was seeing someone bounce off the “Big Balls” and go hurtling through the air like a drunken leprechaun shot from a cannon and I was hooked. For the remainder of the summer, Tuesdays at 8:00 pm (7:00 central) became an almost sacred time around my house as all work ceased and parents & children alike sat down to watch the parade of spectacular falls and countless contusions. Trust me, there’s nothing more conducive to family bonding than watching someone get their sinus cavity filled with mud.

While “Wipeout” is undoubtedly mere mindless entertainment on one level, I do think it vividly illustrates one of the primary recurring themes in the Bible – the idea that no one gets through life unscathed. “Wipeout” takes the contestants past the “Sucker Punch” (or, sometimes, “Butt Kicker”) where they typically take several blows to the face & body before nose-diving into a mud pit. Then there’s the “Big Balls” which usually sends them “cartwheeling” in mid-air before tumbling into murky water. A dozen survivors then get to face the “Sweeper” where they stand on platforms twenty feet high and try to jump over a large metal arm that “sweeps” around higher & faster each time. A sizeable number of them get their legs knocked out from under them and end up doing a “face plant” on the top of the (lightly padded) concrete platform.

Then it’s usually on to something called the “Dizzy Dummy” (which is like a “Spinning Teacups” ride on steroids) where they’re spun around at a high rate of speed for two minutes (or more) and then let loose to race over some obstacles. At last, the final four contestants get to compete on an obstacle course where they are plunged into ice cold water, mowed over by rolling barrels and whipped around at high velocity on the “Spinner”. The person who completes the course in the fastest time is the “winner”.

Think about it, the “winner” has most likely been punched in the face (or kicked in the butt), flipped head-over-heels on the “Big Balls”, done a swan dive off the “Sweeper”, been spun to the point of projectile vomiting by the “Dizzy Dummy”, and then deluged with cold water on their way to being bombarded with rolling barrels and re-spun on the “Spinner”.

That’s exactly the way the Bible portrays the plight of mankind. Even the “Son of Man” himself – the only winner in the history of the human race – wasn’t spared the brutality of life on earth. That’s why it’s so important for believers to be engaged with a church community rather than act as “Lone Ranger Christians”. When struggles & hardships come – and they most assuredly will – it’s the community of fellow believers who can provide the support and encouragement to get through the difficult times. While none of us may get through life unscathed, as Christians, we enjoy the blessing of having both encouragement from fellow believers and the hope that comes from following Jesus.

Post by: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

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