October 25, 2014

"You Must Not Go Alone"

Words from:
"Waking the Dead"
by John Eldredge

Setting Hearts Free
"A few years ago, as Stasi and I really began to wake up and have our eyes opened 
to the spiritual battle raging against us and those we love, 
she said, 'Quick little prayers just aren't going to do it anymore.'

How true it was; how true it has become.

If we would do what Jesus did- 
heal all those who are under the power of the devil- 
and if we would find the life that he offers us, 
we have to fight for it.


That is where we are now in this great Story.

The primary reason most people do not know 
the freedom and life Christ promised 
is that they won't fight for it, 
or they have been told not to fight for it.

Friends, we are now in the midst of an epic battle, 
a brutal and vicious war against an Enemy who knows his time is short.

Open war is upon you, 
whether you would risk it or not."

The Way of the Heart
"If all of this is true (and it is true),
there are some deep and urgent implications.  

Many of those have probably begun to occur to you already.
But there are two I must unveil.

You might remember that the first Christians were called
"followers of the Way".

They had found the Way of Life and had given themselves over to it.
They lived together, ate together, fought together, celebrated together.
They were intimate allies; it was a fellowship of the heart.

How wonderful it would be if we could find the same.

How dangerous it will be if we do not.

Finally, let me ask you a question:
How would you live differently 
if you believed your heart 
was the treasure of the kingdom?

Because we are at war, the business of guarding the heart is a most serious business indeed.
It is precisely because we do not know what the next turn of the page will bring that we nourish our hearts now, knowing at least this much: we will need our whole hearts for whatever is coming next.

  Above all else, you must care for your heart.  

For without your heart... well, have a look around."

Fellowships of the Heart
"Elrond summoned the hobbits to him.  
He looked gravely at Frodo.

'The time has come,' he said.
'The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil.  With you and your faithful servant, Gandalf will go; for this shall be his great task, and maybe the end of his labors.  For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World; Elves, Dwarves, and Men.  Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Gloin for the Dwarves.  They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond.  For men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.'

'But your road and our road lie together for many hundreds of miles,' said Aragorn.  'Therefore Boromir will also be in the Company.  He is a valiant man.'

'There remain two more to be found,' said Elrond.  'These I will consider.  Of my household I may find some that it seems good for me to send.'

'But that will leave no place for us!' cried Pippin in dismay.
'We don't want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo.'

'That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,' said Elrond.

'Neither does Frodo,' said Gandalf, unexpectedly supporting Pippin.
'Nor do any of us see clearly.  It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go.  But they would still wish to go, or wish they had dared, and be shamed and unhappy.  I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to the great wisdom.'

'Let it be so, then.  You shall go,' said Elrond, and he sighed. 
'Now the tale of Nine is filled.  In seven days the Company must depart.'"
(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

We Happy Few
"Once more, lend a mythic eye to your situation.
Let your heart ponder this:

You awake to find yourself in the midst of a great and terrible war.
It is, in fact, our most desperate hour.
Your King and dearest Friend calls you forth.

Awake, come fully alive, your good heart set free and blazing for him and for those yet to be rescued.  You have a glory that is needed.

You are given a quest, a mission that will take you deep into the heart of the kingdom of darkness, to break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron so that your people might be set free from their bleak prisons.  He asks that you heal them.  Of course, you will face many dangers; you will be hunted.

Would you try to do this alone?

Something stronger than fate has chosen you.  
Evil will hunt you.
And so a fellowship must protect you.

Honestly, though he is a very brave and true hobbit, Frodo hasn't a chance without Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli.  He has no real idea what dangers and trials lie ahead.  The dark mines of Moria; the Balrog that awaits him there; the evil orcs called the Urak-hai that will hunt him; the wastes of the Emyn Muil.  

He will need his friends.
And you will need yours.

You must cling to those you have; you must search wide and far for those you do not yet have.

You must not go alone.

From the beginning, right there in Eden, the Enemy's strategy has relied upon a simple aim: divide and conquer.  Get them isolated, and take them out.

When Neo is set free from the Matrix, he joins the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar- the little hovercraft that is the headquarters and ship of the small fellowship called to set the captives free.  There are nine of them in all, each a character in his own way, but nonetheless a company of the heart, a 'band of brothers,' a family bound together in a single fate.  

Together, they train for battle. 
Together, they plan their path.

When they go back into the Matrix to set others free, each one has a role, a gifting, a glory.  They function as a team.  And they watch each other's back.  Neo is fast, really fast, but he still would have been taken out if it hadn't been for Trinity.  Morpheus is more gifted than them all, but it took the others to rescue him.

You see this sort of thing at the center of every great story.

Dorothy takes her journey with the Scarecrow, 
the Tin Woodman, the Lion, and of course, Toto.

Prince Caspian is joined by the last few faithful Narnians, 
and together they overthrow the wicked king Miraz.

Though in the eyes of the world they are only gladiator-slaves, 
walking dead men, 
Maximus rallies his little band and triumphs over the greatest empire on earth.

When Captain John Miller is sent deep behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan, 
he goes in with a squad of eight rangers.

And, of course, Jesus had the Twelve.

This is written so deeply on our hearts:
You must not go alone.

The Scriptures are full of such warnings, 

but until we see our desperate situation, 

we hear it as an optional religious assembly for an hour on Sunday mornings."

It Must Be Small
"When he left Rivendell, 
Frodo didn't head out with a thousand Elves.
He had eight companions.

Jesus didn't march around backed by hundreds of followers, either.

He had twelve men- 
knuckle-heads , every last one of them, 
but they were a band of brothers.

This is the way of the kingdom of God.

Though we are part of a great company,
we are meant to live in little platoons.

The little companies we form must be small enough 
for each of the members to know one another as friends and allies.

Is it possible for five thousand people who gather for an hour on a Sunday morning 
to really and truly know each other?

how about five hundred?

One hundred and eighty?

It can't be done.

They can't possibly be intimate allies.

It can be inspiring and encouraging to celebrate with a big ol' crowd of people,
but who will fight for your heart?

Who will fight for your heart?

Church is not a building.
Church is not an event that takes place on Sundays.

I know,
it's how we've come to think of it.

'I got to First Baptist'
'We are members of St. Luke's'
'Is it time to go to church?'

Much to our surprise, that is not how the Bible uses the term.

Not at all.

Certainly, the body of Christ is a vast throng, millions of people around the globe.  But when Scripture talks about church, it means community.

The little fellowships of the heart that are outposts of the kingdom.

A shared life.

They worship together,
eat together,
pray for one another,
go on quests together.

They hang out together, 

in each other's homes.

I'm not suggesting you not do whatever it is you do on Sunday mornings.

I'm simply helping you accept reality---

Whatever else you do, 

you must have a small fellowship 

to walk with you 
and fight with you 
and bandage your wounds.

the path is narrow,
and few find it.

means "small in number",
as opposed to, say, massive.




This is what the Scriptures urge us to do.



Not as an addition to Sunday.

Before anything else.

It must be intimate.
It will be messy...

Fight for it.
A true community is something you'll have to fight for.

You'll have to fight to get one,
and you'll have to fight to keep it afloat.

But you fight for it as you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea.

You want this thing to work.
You need this thing to work.

You can't ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship.

This is the church; this is all you have.

Without it,

you'll go down.

Or back to captivity.

There are no other options."

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