Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Reason Why Christians are Merry Warriors

Irrepressible Joy

One of our favourite passages in the Lord of the Rings is found when the siege of Gondor is about to begin.  It has always seemed to us that it aptly captures the depth of merriment and joy which flows like an inexhaustible subterranean stream in the Christian's heart and life.

Tolkien's text reads:
Gandalf did not look at Pippin or speak a word to him as they went . . . "Are you angry with me, Gandalf?" [Pippin] said, as their guide went out and closed the door.  "I did the best I could."

"You did indeed!" said Gandalf, laughing suddenly; and he came and stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the hobbit's shoulders, and gazing out the window.  Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry.  Yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow: though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy; a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth. (Book V, part i.)
Matthew Dickerson comments on this passage:

This scene takes place at one of the most despairing moments in the story.  Sauron's darkness is coming upon the land.  Frodo has been captured.  The terrible siege of Minas Tirith is about to start, and there is no sign of Aragorn or the Rohirrim or Faramir.  Denethor is showing signs of the evil coming upon him.  Yet beneath that terrible weight, there is a spiritual side to the wizard.  That spiritual side shows in the incredible joy--a joy that is inexplicable from the point of view of the current physical reality of his situation.

That joy can be explained in no other way than that Gandalf has a deeper understanding, one of the unseen reality beyond what is seen.  Indeed, the imagery here of Gandalf's fountain of mirth is explicitly biblical.  As Jesus told the woman at the well, "But the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water, spring up into life everlasting (John 4:14). [Matthew Dickerson, A Hobbit Journey (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), p. 189.]
Every Christian knows this reality.  It is expressed most cogently and triumphantly in Paul's letter to the Romans:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:31-39]
 It is these realities which make Christians warriors, but more importantly, merry warriors.  There is a joy in our battle-waging which nothing in this world can gainsay or take away.

In Christ, God is for us; who can stand against us?  Therein lies  " fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing were it to gush forth."

Because the birth of the Saviour amongst us, our Champion of champions, is the beginning of the end, it is always for Christians a time of great, irrepressible joy.

No comments: