Without daring to glance to my right, I gently placed my popcorn down on the open seat next to me, and leaned forward with my eyes practically burrowing a hole through the giant screen. In all of my thirty-two years, never had I been so enthralled in one cinematic moment. Almost two decades years after I first read the books The Lord of the Rings, the ending of this film had become everything I hoped it would be.
“Come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely we go to our doom. Last march of the Ents.”
Fifteen years later, chills still sweep through me as I sit in this big, red chair watching this iconic scene once more. As Treebeard and his fellow Ents march into war, their enemy had no clue what kind of violence and destruction was heading their way. The Ents wouldn’t have gotten into the fight, however, if it wasn’t for the burning of the trees happening in the forest around them.
“Many of these trees were my friends,” their leader Treebeard muttered in disgust, just moments prior. This destruction was simply too much for him to bear.
Do you ever feel a little like Treebeard, repulsed by the carnage of words burning in our world today? For me, this is what I am experiencing more and more as I hear the heresy and devaluing of the scriptures from so many folks who say they love Jesus, but want a theology all for themselves. As the Ents held precious the lives of the trees around them, many Christians passionately cling to God’s word as truth, and hold precious the lives affected by the false teachings of our day. Heresy is when someone claims to teach from the scriptures, yet deliberately changes core doctrinal truths to fit better into their ideas or into the current culture. And it’s actually pretty evil.
Let me share briefly about the evil of false teaching, and how it is impacting our culture today. First, though, imagine coming over to my house on a scorching hot day and asking me for a cup of water. I go into the kitchen, and unbeknownst to you, I grab a cup of water, and throw it in microwave for about a minute. My music is turned up, and you’re in my living room not suspecting a thing. I also chuck in two clear chunks of plastic, that look just like ice and hand it to you in a temperature modifying cup. As you lick your lips, you reach out to take it from me, give me a quick “thanks” and what you thought would be a cool cup of water turns out to burn your lips, tongue, and the back of your throat. You spit it out and are about to punch me in the face when I say, “Hey. This is water. It’s good water. There’s nothing wrong with your water. Maybe you don’t like the temperature, but it’s still good water. “
Let’s be real now. The story of Jesus is based upon our need for a Savior because of our sin, which has separated us from God. Jesus, however, created a path to God the Father, through his perfect life, crucifixion on the cross, and glorious resurrection. All of this was done for you and me and the rest of mankind. By falling on our knees and rejoicing over our part of the story within this beautiful gospel, we can know for all of eternity we will be in paradise with Jesus.
The most popular heretical teachings of our day have two main ingredients thrown into the pot. First, they preach a gospel that is incomplete, one that doesn’t involve hell or any type of separation from God. The iconic scriptures, such as John 3:16 and Romans 6:23, play second fiddle to a compromised Gospel, one based in the culturally relevant philosophical teachings of man, all while ignoring key biblical truths. Hell is never going to be a popular topic, yet it is a quite necessary conversation in teaching the beautiful Gospel of Jesus.
Second, false teachers today will play manipulative games with sin, most commonly sexual sin and the sins associated with life, such as abortion. While many of us rejoice in the freedom from sin the Gospel of Jesus delivers, false teachers want to rejoice in something else – You! It is just so true! Folks, I am all for the big hug, but I’m not interested in worshiping anyone else but Jesus himself (Seriously this idea of worshiping myself is getting uncomfortable now so I’ll just step away now. Yikes!).
Treebeard and the other Ents marched forward to not only protect what they found precious, but to also defend those who were too weak or immature to defend themselves. This is the great calling of those who are mature followers of Jesus – we defend our brothers and sisters from heresy and false teachers. We do this just like the Ents, with the “rock and stone”, that is the rock solid foundation we find in God’s word. We speak in truth and with love of course, but we do not sacrifice one for the other. We are not called to sit back and turn away from the battle before us, but we are to engage, protect, and yes, attack the heresies. For those we love. For those who are precious to Jesus.
And then we march forward into the pure, beautiful, and glorious story of man’s redemption.