Why Do Good? Pt. 2
Has there ever been a movie that you've watched time and again, and each time you've had your emotions stirred and felt the wonder of what incredible cinematography can do? For me, that movie is Return of The King, the final film in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Several year ago, my husband had asked for the box set of the movies as a Christmas gift. He specifically wanted the extended edition. With the extra footage, each movie takes about 4 hours to watch. So, if you want to watch the whole film in one sitting, you have to plan ahead.
I'm going to go on a slight rabbit trail, but I promise this will all come back around. . .
Last week I was standing in the midst of about 160 pastors and ministry leaders as we were gathered in prayer for Albuquerque. It's no secret that our city is at the top of most bad lists (crime, poverty, addition, etc.) while being at the bottom of most good lists (education, economy, opportunity). Please understand that I deeply love my city, and much like the parent of a rebellious teen, I grieve over her bad choices, but have hope that she will come back around.
During this prayer time a number of different pastors prayed over specific areas of hurt in our city. I found myself weeping, not from a sense of hopelessness, but because I genuinely felt that for the first time in a very long time, there was a unity among churches and a genuine heart to come together to make a change. It was toward the end of this gathering that the battle scene from Return of the King flooded my mind.
Battle weary Christians were flailing their weapons, exhausted beyond belief. They no longer had a plan or strategy, but were simply trying to keep the enemy from knocking them down. Then, when it seemed that they couldn't survive one more moment, the camera pans to the ridge of the mountain where the sun is beginning to rise. With the dawn comes reinforcements. Help has arrived!
While the battle rages on outside the city walls, Gandalf and Pippin face the enemy inside the gates. Moments before what is to be certain death, the two have a memorable exchange:
“Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn't.”
It is this, the "what lies beyond", that really is the answer to "Why do good?" You see, we will all battle through life. We may battle to be recognized, fight social injustices or war against disease. Some of our causes are noble, some are more self-serving. But if we desire to do good, a true and lasting good that benefits the other person regardless of cost to ourselves, then there must be a driving force much greater than the pleasure of winning the battle of the moment.
Are pastors and ministry leaders misguided in praying for and fighting towards change for Albuquerque? Not at all! In fact, it is in the understanding that there is more to the journey than just our few short decades on earth that drives the desire to see good be done. It is through a genuine love for our city and love for one another that we begin to make an imprint on our community and bring a glimmer of eternal hope for the "country" that comes into view after the swift sunrise.
If you find yourself faced with a choice between doing good or doing nothing, consider carefully the consequences of your choice. There is a cost no matter which path you take. Doing genuine good will cost you. You have to give, you might get dirty, and you most certainly will be uncomfortable. Yet, doing nothing comes with a price as well. Your hands stay clean, but you miss the opportunity to share with the broken the vision for what comes next. Do not deceive yourself. Choosing to hide while others engage in battle will keep you safe for a moment, but, night comes for us all. I pray we all choose to do good when we are given the opportunity.