‘Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’
The Lone Ranger is a poor name for a good TV show. The name is because the “masked man” is the only survivor of a group of Texas Rangers. He never works alone. Silver, his trusted horse, is always with him. Tonto is also there to lend a hand. Tonto even calls the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe” which means something like “faithful friend.” The Lone Ranger is rarely alone and needs his friends to be who he is.
The Christian life is much like that. You have likely heard the cliché, “There is no Lone Ranger Christianity.” One person cannot walk the Christian life alone but many try. They say things like, “Well, I don’t need the church because the church is full of hypocrites anyway.” Some try to spiritualize their Lone Ranger attitude by saying, “I don’t need the church, I just need Jesus. It’s a religion, not a relationship.” (my least favorite inaccurate Christian cliché) Scripture is adamant in its presentation of the necessity of the Church in the life of the believer. A Christian who lives without the Church is a Christian who lives in sin. Christ’s provision of the Church was so that we could survive this earth on our way to our goal, the Promised Land.
Frodo carrying Sam up Mt. Doom works as an intense view into this idea. Sam had carried the Ring himself for a short time, but ultimately it was up to Frodo to finish the task. Sam knew he could not carry the Ring, so he did the only thing that came naturally to him: he carried Frodo. One could easily argue Sam is the main character of the trilogy, and there is no doubt Frodo would have died without him. Here, in this moment of desperation, Sam carried his friend. Frodo may not have completed the task were it not for Sam. Sauron had a stranglehold on Frodo’s heart and mind, but the love of a friend pulled him back in and literally carried him to the finish.
Are we to carry our Christian brothers and sisters? There are times that we will carry others, and there are times when other will carry us. Paul calls us to “bear one another’s burdens” in Galatians 6. We should not only walk with others with times are hard, but we should also be willing to hold them to their commitment to Christ when they veer off the narrow road. We will veer off the road as well, and we will need that strong hand to put us back in our correct place. We cannot finish this race alone, nor can we expect others to do it without us. We are a team, and without all the parts working toward the goal, we will stumble. Go it alone and you are asking to be reeled in by temptation and doubt, and what may have been a bump in the road will soon become Mt. Doom.
Our journey toward the Promised Land requires everyone on the field, playing their position, and ready to pull another’s weight when they fall. Falling may be a small private matter or a giant public one. It might be as simple as an angry outburst that requires forgiveness or infidelity in marriage, which requires years of healing. Rest assured there will be those that will fall. We all will to one degree or another. It is Christ’s provision of the Church that keeps us putting on foot in front of the other and pushing toward the goal.