In the movie “The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies” a key figure by the name of Thorin Oakenshield had reclaimed the mountain from the dragon Smaug. The dragon had long held the mountain riches as his own. ( and how was a dragon going to spend the gold?) Anyway, as the dwarf king and his men took over the mountain, Thorin came down with a terrible sickness, Gold fever, resulting from greed. It caused him to become very possessive of the gold in the mountain and selfishness followed close behind and changed him from who he was to this new sickening person. The very thing he wanted to get back as his own took control of his life to the point that he wouldn’t leave the mountain for fear someone would take control of it. Soon after the dragon Smaug was defeated word got out and others came to the mountain hoping to get their riches from the depths of the mountain. It’s lure on their lives was like a huge magnet drawing them to go to battle for what was inside. One such group, the elves, brought a great army to get their precious white stones from the mountain lair, but Thorin was so “eat up” with his sickness that he was determined to protect the treasure at all costs. All the while the Orc army was gathering to defeat the dwarfs, and the elves, and the humans while they were arguing over the treasure in the mountain. The deep desire to get the treasure inside the mountain distracted all the other armies and the Orcs caught them unaware and almost defeated them while they were transfixed by the lure of the mountain treasure. Thankfully Thorin had a vision of the gold destroying him and he woke up and led his dwarf brothers to victory, along with the other armies.
What can we learn from this great story of the battle of good and evil? First, Christians get distracted by shiny things. You know we do!! The next best, greatest thing comes down the road and we sacrifice all to get it. And when we pursue it, we think we deserve it. It’s the shiny things in life that lead to the sickness of pride and selfishness. We use statements like: Have you heard the latest this, that, or the other? If we haven’t, we feel left out…..PRIDE. Secondly, the sickness causes us to feel comfortable in our church and we don’t want to let anyone else in. We are so proud of our church “family” and “fellowship” and we will do anything we can to protect our community. SELFISHNESS The early church had a wonderful fellowship, but God allowed persecution on them to scatter them to other places so the Gospel would continue to be shared in all areas. He wouldn’t allow them to just live in the mountain and enjoy the riches of a closed fellowship. He broke down the barriers that kept them from sharing the Gospel. We build walls to keep others out, even though we say we are reaching out to others. We will never admit that the reason we don’t reach out is because we don’t want others in. The sickness of selfishness has caused us to exclude the field of souls and not include the field of souls. Those walls are built as a defense against any who might come and take away my “position” in the church. Thirdly, we are so busy trying to get “our” way and not consider others first, that the enemy, satan, comes in behind us and starts tearing us apart while we are distracted. He is defeated, but we allow him entrance into our flank without watching out for him, and he is winning little battles against the church while we fight among ourselves. All the while, those in the mountain, the church, are trying to protect it from outsiders who we think might upset our way of life and take away our precious standing.
It’s time for all who have acquired the gold mountain sickness to look at the effect of that sickness on their life and wake up to the fact that we are losing too many battles because of distraction. We are no longer a place that is open to all to come in, but a place that has erected high walls of protection to keep a lost and dying world at bay. It’s time to awaken from our sickened, selfish, prideful, attitudes and come out of the mountain (church building) and move forward in battle to defeat evil where it is. The Orc leader orchestrated their attack from a high vantage point and he knew if they would just keep fighting among themselves he could defeat them, so he kept attacking at their weakness. It wasn’t until Thorin overcame his sickness and charged the hill that the Orc’s started to fall. It’s time to leave the sanctuary of the mountain and charge the hill of the enemy and open the mountain (church) up for all who may want to enter in and allow the riches of God’s grace and mercy to be experienced by all who come seeking. When we do that our armies will be united in one purpose, living in peace and enjoying the victory that has already been won by Jesus Christ. He is the warrior king and He has defeated all evil. Our strength and power is found in Him alone, but we must advance forward in that power to win many more victories in people’s lives. We don’t have five armies, we have one united army of saints who know what it takes to win battles. Put on your battle raiment and we will see victory after victory.
The Pilgrimage continues…