Of Hobbits, Christians, and Serving God
I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic, The Lord of the Rings and have read it many times. It is an epic tale of how quiet, unassuming folk called Hobbits (or Halflings), who like nothing more than to eat, drink, and tend to their own affairs, get swept into a quest to stop a demonic darkness from conquering the world. The unlikeliest of heroes, Hobbits are a small folk, the size of children, and they are not given to courage or great deeds. Their favorite response to a threat is to run and hide. In spite of their lack of size, strength, or fighting skill, Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo swallowed their fear, crawled out of their Hobbit-holes, and risked everything to save the world.
If Christians are not careful, they can become like Hobbits, totally focused upon their daily routines and quick to run from anything that might threaten their ease or comfort. Further, Christians often see themselves as small and powerless, unable to make a difference in a world that appears to get darker day by day. As a result, Christians huddle in the Hobbit-holes of little churches, hang out with each other, and pretend that the outside world is not even there.
Darkness is spreading in the world around us. 19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, I John 5:19. However, greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world, I John 4:4. Unlike the Hobbits in Tolkien’s story, we have the power of the Living God at work in our lives to do great and marvelous things. There is a world that needs saving, and God wants to use you and me to save it.
So let’s climb out of our comfortable little Hobbit-holes and inconvenience ourselves for the sake of those around us. Let’s make friends with those who don’t go to church, who don’t know Jesus, or who are caught in the darkness around us. Let’s pray for them and invite them to come to Sunday School and Worship. Let’s do Car Care and Easter Egg Hunts and VBS and hot dog roasts and Christmas Dinners. Let’s be a part of God’s efforts to save the world.
In His Grace,
TO OUR WARRIORS IN THE SUNDAY SCHOOL and the People They Teach
In my sermons I have often quoted a troubling statistic that I have seen in multiple sources over the last 10 years: 10 million believers have given up on the church. They just do not go and do not plan on going back. One futurist has predicted that very soon believers will get their spiritual batteries charged online through video podcasts. The fear is that the church is losing its relevance in our contemporary, computerized culture.
There is just one problem with that fear. Human nature has not changed, and humans crave connection. A computer cannot hug; a TV preacher cannot bring food in when a person is sick. We are still hardwired for community, and the church is designed to meet that need.
In Romans 12, Paul unwrapped his formula for a healthy community, and in v. 10 he wrote, 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. . . . A literal translation: with brotherly love, unto one another have brotherly/family affection. Whereas agape love depends upon the person and is about sacrifice, brotherly/family affection depends upon connection and is about feelings. It is the warm sense of family that grows out of time spent in caring connection.
And the best place to find that kind of love outside of a family is in Sunday School. We cannot connect like that in worship. That kind of love takes eye ball to eye ball, heart to heart conversation, and when it transpires over the Bible, it can grow faster and deeper. That kind of love happens when people meet Sunday after Sunday. That kind of love happens when, on other days, Sunday School class members meet in each other’s homes or at restaurants or on picnics or at bowling alleys. That kind of love happens when members pray for each other and help each other when help is needed. That kind of love happens best in Sunday School.
See you next Sunday at 9:15 for a healthy dose of love?