The last few days I have been re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring. If you are familiar with the story you know that a hobbit by the name of Frodo Baggins has come into the Ring of Power and it is his responsibility to take the Ring to Rivendell, to the home of Elves, so the Ring’s fate could be decided. On that journey, poor Frodo, is stabbed with Morgul-knife which, if it is able to pierce the heart, able to turn a person into a wraith.
Fortunately for Frodo, he is pierced in the shoulder, and is able to hold out until he reaches Rivendell and help. A splinter of the knife is removed from the wound, before it was able to reach Frodo’s heart. This is what Gandalf the wizard says to the hobbit; “Don’t be alarmed! It is gone now. It has been melted. And it seems Hobbits fade very reluctantly. I have known strong warriors of the Big People who would quickly have been overcome by that splinter, which you bore for seventeen days.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 248)
Why was Frodo able to hold out, when bigger and stronger people would have been overcome? I think that answer lies in the Shire, the home of the hobbits. The Shire is a good place and the hobbits are good people. Evil was not part of their existence. It also explains why the Ring had such little effect on Bilbo Baggins when he possessed it, and why Frodo was able to resist its evil so long as well. The goodness of their home acted as a shield against the assault of evil from the Enemy.
So what does this have to do with you and me? Remember, we too have an Enemy out to destroy us. We have all felt his assault of evil in our lives: divorce, tragedy, job loss, betrayal, and sickness are just a few weapons he uses to attack our hearts, to make us like he is: a God-hater.
What will get us through those tough times? The Church. It is the goodness and love we experience from other Christians that is able to give us the courage and the hope to hold out, no matter what evil may come our way.
If that is true there are two important things that we need to do. First, we need to be committed to a group of Christ-followers. We cannot benefit from the love, encouragement, and help of other Christians if we do not make the time to fellowship with them. Second, we need to do our part to love, encourage, and help other people when they are experiencing difficult times. It is the choice of individual Christ-followers to love and be good that make the Church a place of healing and hope. We have to make that choice to make sure it remains so.
When we are protected by the good of the Church, we will fade reluctantly when evil comes our way. Let us be committed to the Church, and being agents of good in this world.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:23-25; ESV
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