Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Healthy Sense of Doom

There is a great scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where Pippin knocks some old armor into a deep well while in the Mines of Moria ("Fool of a Took!").  While they all wait in breathless suspense, a drum booms.  Then another.  Then another.  The sounds marks impending doom for all of them. Goblins, orcs, and things much fouler and deeper are coming.

First they barricade themselves, then they fight, then they flee towards freedom.  They cannot make it on their own, of course, but Gandalf is in the midst of them, ready to give his life to save those running from the darkness.

   We live in a culture that loves happy, shiny, feel-good moments.  Sure, we love the swine flu and 2012 doomsday scenarios, but only because they are deliciously false.  Any real sense of doom is quickly numbed by a myriad of distractions. Unfortunately, the church has bought into this mindset.

 Paul said about the church in Thessalonica: "They marvel at how expectantly you wait for the arrival of God's Son, whom He raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom."

Those most aware of certain doom are most inclined to long for the freedom Christ brings.  Those who know they are dead most appreciate the one who can give them life.

When's the last time we heard the drums that pound out a message of doom into the background noise of our own lives?  We're pretty good at drowning them out with music, movies, video games, texting, drugs, porn, work, play - anything, really.  The goblins and orcs that we have summoned are drawing closer and we have no idea.  We throw our lives casually down the wells of sin and indulgence, but are never sobered and quiet enough to listen to what the consequences will be.

I see so many Christians who live without a healthy sense of doom.  How do I know?  Because if they knew what awaited them, they would barricade themselves, fight, flee, and pray that God delivers them as they sprint toward the light.

Instead, they slouch deeper into the mines of greed, jealousy, pettiness, gossip, pornography, judgement, anger, pride and self-pity.  The spiritual and relational armor they toss casually down the well of compromise makes a massive amount of noise which everyone around them hears with great clarity, but to which they are oblivious.  They have no idea that doom approaches.

So marriages collapse, businesses fail, friends leave, influence and authority wanes, effective ministry dies, and they have no idea why.  They are deaf to the drumbeats God has graciously provided as a wake-up call. When the fellowship leaves,  heading towards the light, they stay behind.

I wish I were exempt from this, but I'm not.  I can point to too many times in my life where I deliberately smothered the very warning that would have pointed me toward the light of Christ.

Here's what I have learned: If we want to be effective witnesses for Christ, we must regain a healthy sense of doom.  Our sins will kill us; have we forgotten? We must hear the drums.  We, of all people, ought to appreciate the punishment from which we have been saved.  If we don't how can we winsomely and articulately share "the hope that lies within us"?  If the things from which we have been saved intrigue us, will the hope of salvation really be that big of a deal?

We all want to to draw others to Christ.  While we study so that we can know what to say and how to say it, perhaps we should listen for the drums.   I suppose Aragorn could have stayed in the mines, but then that's the end of the story.  Those of us who love the light must hate the dark, and be honest enough to confront it in our own lives.  God will give us warning - He made the drums after all - and He can transform the fear of doom into the hope of salvation. 



  1. Something that was left out of the movie that I think could be included in this, is that there was no hope. If you read the book carefully, you can see that the attitude is one of hopelessness. Not despair, but they all understood that their quest was hopeless, and that even if Sauron was defeated, there would be another enemy to fight. There could be no final victory, and that's how it was for us before Jesus. And even with Him, as long as we're on earth, there will always be another fight, another evil, and the state of the world is hopeless and doomed, so we need to pull as many people out of the destruction as we can. It's not an exact analogy(naturally), since Middle-Earth has a different "purpose," but applicable.

  2. Good point. The quest continued not necessarily because it would be successful, but because good people at least try. I would suggest that Tolkein does embed hope in the story - they do, after all, succeed - but its presence is felt more after the outcome than during the journey. I think your analogy is not bad, btw :) We all carry a ring; we all run the risk of becoming Gollum.