The cinematic version of Tolkien’s epic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, tells the story of Frodo Baggins and his quest to destroy a powerful ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Eight companions, called the Fellowship of the Ring, accompany Frodo on his journey. We, as viewers, are aware of trouble from without—Gollum, a shell of a hobbit who will do anything to get the ring back in his possession. What is unexpected and heartbreaking is the trouble that arises within the fellowship. Boromir wants the ring for his own interests and attacks Frodo, who escapes. The attack leads to a series of events that ultimately ends in the breakup of the fellowship.
The movie is a fascinating story of perseverance and triumph. At the same time, it is also a cautionary tale of what can happen when we prioritize our interests above everything and everyone.
There is something so precious about unity. One psalmist described the peaceful fellowship among believers as good and pleasant and refreshing (Psalm 133:1–3).
As much as we desire unity and peace, God desires it even more. John 17 gives us insight into what was on Jesus’s heart the night before his crucifixion: us. His desire for oneness included both his current disciples and his future disciples (John 17:21). Jesus prayed for this unity among believers, knowing what it would take to achieve it—his death.
Paul urges us to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. This does not mean disagreements and differences of opinion will not arise. As we’ve discussed this week, we should respond to all of these with humility, gentleness, and a patience motivated by love. A lifestyle marked by these virtues upholds the unity of the Spirit.