It is no secret that I love The Lord of the Rings. It has many themes woven into the story that apply to our lives as Disciples of Christ. One of those themes is the theme of the dangerous and difficult road. We would like for our lives to be a bed of roses, but reality tells us a different story. Jesus doesn’t allows lead us by the safest road, but He does lead us to where we need to be.
“None here can do so,” said Elrond gravely. “At least none can foretell what will come to pass, if we take this road or that. But it seems to me now clear which is the road we must take. The westward road seems easiest. Therefore it must be shunned. It will be watched. Too often the Elves have fled that way. Now at this last we must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be. To walk into peril—to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 299)
In life the best road to take is not always the easiest road, often we must take is the hard road in order to live the life God created us to live. Regardless of the peril that road may have, it is the road we must travel if it is the road Jesus picked for us to walk. We can no longer be content to seek the easy way, for Christ is beckoning us to rise up to the challenge of following Him.
In Rivendell, at the Council of Elrond, the free people of Middle Earth had to decide what to do with the Ring of Power. One suggestion was to take the Ring to the Ocean and cast it into the deep so it would be lost forever. The other option was to take the Ring to Mordor and to cast it into the fires of Mount Doom. To go west seemed easy and the road to Mordor was filled with dangers, but the only way to make sure the Ring is gone forever was to go towards the enemy, rather than away from him. The road to Mount Doom was the hard road, but it alone was the path to victory.
Jesus told His disciples; “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you” (John 15:18-19; NLT)
Jesus just told His disciples to live lives of obedience, to produce fruit, and to love each other, for then the world would know they were His disciples. It is that context that Jesus reminded them that this road He called them to travel would not be easy. People would hate them for how they lived and what they how they served people. For the disciples to follow Jesus meant to travel a hard road: the road of hatred and persecution. Yet, it was by traveling this road that they were able to discover the life God has called them to live.
It is easy to remain part of the world, to offer up nice ideas instead of the truth, to be ”tolerant” rather than remain steadfast in our convictions, and to be nice rather than to love. The easy thing is to live a life that will make people like us, but for that to happen we have to be like them. The way of Jesus leads us away from the world and towards God, which shines a light upon all those around us. We are hated because people don’t like their lives exposed by the light of God’s truth and love.
Christianity is not easy. It is not the easy way to live life nor is it the easy way to heaven. Jesus, as well as the rest of the New Testament, taught that the Christian life would be filled with hardship and trouble. Christians have not been promised an easy life.
Though it is not easy, following Jesus is the way we must travel if we are going to have a relationship with God. It is The Way God has provided for us to have an eternal relationship with Him. There is no other way to God except through the person of Jesus Christ.
Just like Frodo we are called to travel the difficult way, for it is through this journey that we able to become our true selves.
There is one difference between the word we are called to travel and the journey Frodo took to destroy the Ring. The road Frodo was to travel no one could see the outcome, they did not know if it would end with the destruction of the Ring. While we may not know every twist and turn that of the journey we do know that they journey will end successfully, because of Jesus we can know that one day we will be able to spend eternity with God. What better motivation can there be to keep moving forward?