I was at a day-long marathon showing of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy recently (I’m a big nerd, so I do things like that from time to time!) when I noticed a depiction of something the Lord has been speaking to my heart over the last few weeks.
It’s a scene in the first film, where representatives from several races meet in an effort to determine what to do about the threat that faces them all—the growing Shadow that rises in the East, as the dark lord Sauron gathers every manner of evil to himself to stamp out all that is good and holy in Middle Earth. Men, dwarves and elves bring to the table not only their various personalities and strengths, but their pride and prejudices as well. It’s obvious that some of the folk there don’t particularly like or appreciate some of the others, and mistrust runs deep.
When it becomes clear that the only way to rid Middle Earth of Sauron forever is to destroy his Ring of Power, the company falls into open conflict. Boromir wants to use the ring to defeat Sauron; Gimli tries to chop it in half with an ax. But the only way to destroy the ring is to throw it into the fires of Mt. Doom—and it’s only when those at the table lay down their individual agendas to focus on the greater mission of protecting the hobbit, Frodo, on the long journey to Mordor that they become known as the Fellowship of the Ring.
There are lessons here for us as Christians who seek to change the culture and redeem it from the evil rising around us:
- We can’t use the enemy’s own tools against him. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? … But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matt. 12:25-26, 28, ESV) If we’re fueled by anger, or engage in polemics against those with different viewpoints, we’ve already lost. What’s the motivation of our hearts?
- Our own tools are far too weak for the job at hand—we have to rely on something greater than emotion, logic, legislation or legal opinions. Like Gimli’s ax, they have their purposes—but we’re not to rely primarily upon them. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4, ESV)
- The road to victory is paved with humility and unity. (See entire New Testament for references to the last becoming first, instructions to prefer others over ourselves, and detailed explanations of the complementary nature of the Body of Christ.)
There are lots of different kinds of salt in the world: Fine-milled white salt, coarse-ground sea salt. Pink salt. Gray salt. Black salt. Kosher salt, rock salt, pickling salt and fleur de sel. But no matter what variety you prefer, salt has only one purpose: To preserve and give flavor to the food it’s sprinkled on.
That’s us, you know. Whether Calvinist, Catholic or Charismatic—from Anabaptist to Wesleyan, and everything in between—we have individual strengths and personal preferences about the best way to do things. But we are all called to lay those emphases down in service of the One King. If there ever was a time for denominational bickering, those days are long since past. The world will know us by our love for one another—and as we learn to let the eyes be eyes and the feet be feet, etc., we’ll become effective in all we do.
It’s time for the Body of Christ to become the Fellowship of the King.