As a lover of movies, I most love them for the messages they bring me through their stories. I had seen very few movies before I met the man who would become my husband. His love of movies exposed me to so many wonderful films (along with some poor ones here and there). I have more than a few favorites.
Among those favorites, The Lord of the Rings trilogy stands above them all. The scripts adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s great work never fail to speak to me. We have watched them often since they first appeared on the big screen. It would be fair to say we watch the series once a year. I know them well and yet here and there I will see or hear something differently or to a greater depth.
As I look at the turmoil in the world in any direction I glance, I see great divisions based on religion, culture, values, types of government, and so much more.
What is saddest perhaps is the amount of division that is so evident in the body of Christ. Have we forgotten Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (ESV)
How can we ever defeat darkness and evil when we so often bicker among ourselves over a long list of things? Do we not recognize we have a common foe meant on dividing us, weakening us? I would not suggest that we could agree on all areas. We are flawed humans walking out our faith after all. But what could unite us?
I cannot answer that with certainty; but as I watch the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, in the trilogy, I see clearly there was also much division depicted there as well. Much of it related to the quest for power and influence.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
How very true are his words!
In The Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien described the power sources in his epigraph:
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
As the movie begins Middle-earth is weak and disunited, with little truth existing among the various races depicted. Dissension abounds in all the different human kingdoms as the scenes unfold. One of the important keys is that the true leaders are not in their rightful places or positions. Maybe that is what feeds the lust for the power of the “One Ring” to rule them all.
As I consider the state of the earth in the film and now, I cannot help but think and see similarities. Truth is hard to come by. Lived experiences, filters, biases, and more all coalesce to keep discord stirring. All the while, we lose sight of the devices of the enemy to divide us. We also forget the story of the Tower of Babel when God put a stop to the pride to build a tower representing the power of mankind seeking to ascend to the very heavens. That pride and lust for power, fame, and influence had been brewing since the Garden of Eden in the fiber of mankind.
Even as believers we must stand watch over this ancient part of our original DNA.
If we remain alert and keep our eyes and ears focused on the spiritual realities, we see there is one enemy that seeks to disrupt us, spoil us as the trophies won by the Lord at Calvary.
IF we keep that awareness, we may humble ourselves at the foot of the cross before the One whose power is good and perfect, One who walks humbly before His Father and all of us, One who is ever full of grace and mercy.
IF we keep that focus, then we will keep in focus that no matter where you gather in worship or what songs you sing, our enemy is also the same because he is the Lord’s enemy. Our identification with the Lord as His disciples, his children, gives us the call to stand with and for Him.
We do not just represent Him, we present Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV