The great weapons and shields of Lord of the Rings were passed down through the generations to be used in various battles against the forces of evil. Frodo wore Mithril and his sword, Sting, passed down from Bilbo. Aragorn held Andúril, Isildur’s sword, and Boromir’s own weapon had been inherited, though its history was not as infamous. Even the ring was an inheritance of sorts. The protagonists’ items (not the ring) were practical, and they were valuable enough to be passed down, cared for, treasured.
Even Andúril, associated with both the victory and the failure of men, though broken, was reforged at the right time. These items of war remind me of Paul’s armor, built out of faith and trust in the Word of God (Ephesians 6). I started thinking about inheritance, what I treasure, and how much I trust the power of the Word of God. I started to think about our disposable culture and the trends in Christianity that come and go.
My Relics from Family
The only thing I coveted of my mother’s was a cookbook so worn out that my father threw it away which saddened me greatly. There was no way to make it work anymore, I guess because I had loved it so much that it fell apart.
But most things I own can be and will be replaced, far too easily I think. There is very little I would grieve to lose in a fire–mostly items my children made for me, or pictures of them (when they still posed for the camera). These are keepsakes their own children will wish to see if they are anything like every child I have ever met, and like I was as a child.
Yes, most of what I own is disposable. It’s not made to last. I would be ashamed to pass it down, even my jewelry. Much of what I wear is so cheap it falls apart before I lose any of it (which is inevitable, and a good reason for me not to buy gold).
The most important inheritance I have received, and the best thing I will leave behind is my testimony. My faith. The best legacy I inherited from my mother’s family was their deep, rich faith in God. This trickled through the many cracks and gaping holes in my parents’ unbelief. This is also what I hope to leave behind me.
My Inheritance from God
As treasures go, it’s nothing to show at parties or itemize on an insurance form. My most treasured possession is not an item to hold, but a belief. A certainty. It’s my faith in Christ; that he is who he says he is and, thus, I can trust his assertions about who I am also. I have good reason to believe that he is coming back, even though I might not see that day until after I am in the ground.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). For many years I valued the jar of clay. Sometimes I still do, but the paint is definitely fading. My jar is old-fashioned but not old enough to be a valuable antique.
Nowadays, though: would it get a new paint job? I suspect my jar of clay would be added to a heap of garage sale rubbish and either sold for 25 cents or given away at the end of the day. The contents of that jar are invisible to the naked eye, except to the eye that is open to the real treasures inside that vessel. It’s the Spirit living inside of me.
When I drift away, this isn’t because the Spirit needs a facelift. He is the same all the time, but I need to change. Followers of the real, true gospel didn’t have to give it a new look, a fresh coat of pain, or LED lights to make it shinier or more popular. Christ was and always will be the “author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He embodies the gospel, and he is perfect.
Antiques Fraud and Faith
Can there be such a thing as Christian beliefs which come and go, like fads in furniture and home appliances? Not real Christian beliefs–they are described as such but don’t actually align with the gospel.
There always has been and always will be the threat of false teachers. Some kind of faith is always popular and acceptable in society–the kind that doesn’t have to explain itself and isn’t terribly challenging. Faith in some universal but powerless being who does not require submission to his authority is all the rage, or so it seems, at least among those who consider themselves in any way “spiritual.” That’s not new.
People like the idea of a god who is happy to make us wealthy and healthy, someone to get angry at when life goes wrong but doesn’t want us to suffer. He is a non-intrusive sort of god who lets us do our own thing and answers to us rather than the other way around.
By the time I die, the prevailing trends in faith will be equally lacking in clarity, direction, or truth. They will fall apart under close examination the way all of these unfinished faiths have done.
Their advocates and leaders will look glossy and speak convincingly in a way, which they think is more satisfying, unifying, and inclusive than the Biblical gospel. But it’s all or nothing with God; a compromise is worthless; balsa wood compared with the solid oak of our Triune God.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). Those faiths are like art fraud: scrape away just a little and you see that the paint is fresh, and it’s not quite the right hue for what Titian had at his disposal. The light is a little wrong. Shadows are pointing in the wrong direction or absent entirely. The picture lacks depth.
Wise and seasoned art dealers can spot a fake because they know the real thing so well, no fraud can get past them. So it is with the Gospel.
Either it is the real deal or it’s a fake; there can be only one truth, and Christ proclaimed that he would not share the throne with anyone. Karma looks a little bit like the gospel, “because faith without works is dead” (James 2:26), but we are not saved by those works; we do the works because we are saved and becoming more like Christ. We want to serve him.
Reincarnation sounds something like the resurrection, but it’s not. The Lord was bodily brought back from the dead, not as something else but with his former body only not dead. So will it be with us. Believers will be raised from the dead, but not as better or worse versions of ourselves based on how we lived our lives. Not as slugs, and not as divine winged creatures.
Why Am I So Convinced of This?
I’m not a textual scholar or an antique dealer, but I obviously love words. There is something about a story that either holds together and rings true or does not. The four Gospels are far too real to be anything but the truth as far as I’m concerned.
There is unity within the narrative, but a lot of flawed humanity about the people within the story (except Christ). He never wavers from his purpose or his ways. He is so good, and so unflinching in his purpose and obedience to the Lord.
Christ is not afraid to be unpopular; to say hard things; and yet he does so lovingly. Everything his Word tells us to do, Christ did; he went before us. “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
He and the disciples were poor. He was real. He wasn’t even a rock star in his own day. Christ would be betrayed, rejected, and threatened for three straight years before losing his life in one of the most agonizing ways of human devising. Jesus’ disciples died or were exiled for their faith (with one obvious exception), and not just the initial 12.
Early believers would have scoffed at prosperity proponents. So would many martyrs who came after them. And why would Christ or any of his followers go through so much in order to stand firm in their faith in a God who was distant, didn’t really know them, and who would always leave them wondering if they were in karmic credit or debt?
They saw the real God, in the flesh, and they were changed. They didn’t give Christ all their money. They just followed him in doing good.
No Need for a Tune-Up
My point is my Christian faith is derived from an eternal truth. The Bible is its certificate of provenance. It’s an antique, but it’s as good and true today as it always has been.
My faith has nicks and scrapes all over it, just like any well-made, well-used f
orm of defense and weaponry. Reject it all you want, but ask yourself, “Can I rest my weight on my beliefs when dark stuff goes down? Is this a shiny red dollar-store crutch that’ll crack under any actual pressure, or a scratched but solid stick of oak that appears to have been used to cross the Red Sea in the time of Moses?”
I’ll take the ugly stick, thank you, and the people who see it for what it is will cherish my stick.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/aldomurillo
Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.