I’m not a major Lord of the Rings fan like some of my smart friends, but I was moved by the scene in Return of the King when the Fellowship arrives at the gates of evil to confront the darkness and command it to disperse. It’s an audacious mission—the Fellowship is a small motley crew up against a foreboding wall, and forces beyond their imagination. The emissary of the darkness, The Mouth, comes out to negotiate. He tells the Fellowship that their boy Frodo, their hope for the salvation of the earth, has been tortured and killed. Discouragement and fear ripple through the Fellowship. The Mouth recoils a little when called by his true but forgotten name, “Faithless & accursed,” but keeps spewing out the discouraging lie. Finally, the leader of the Fellowship gets fed up with the despair of his people and advances toward the gruesome Mouth. He draws his sword and decapitates Faithless, explaining, “I do not believe him; I will not believe him.” (The clip is better than my description.)
I suppose it sounds like a fantasy drama, but I think that our cell movement is actually confronting the darkness by creating safe places where Jesus can be revealed and known. It’s an audacious mission in a big mouthy empire, and the mouth is talking. For one thing, many people associate “Christian” with senator-types or manipulative TV evangelists. The deceptive mouth can whisper to faithful and seeking people, “Who do you think you are? You don’t wanna be identified with these crazies. No one will understand.” For another thing, it takes some guts to be the light. The feared-up mouth says, “You don’t got what it takes. You can barely keep up with your life as it is. Leave the leadership to the gifted people.
I seriously doubt that we are called to put up with the mouth. If we do, we can become like big mouths ourselves, just consuming and enjoying bits of goodness instead of creating anything for the next person who is hungry. Maybe we could shut up the faithless mouth by exposing the truth that our Liberator is indeed alive and well, and present to help us do what we’re called to do. I’m glad to be part of a fellowship that is listening and moving and alive in that hope.