It tends to be a majority held opinion that when a film is adapted from the book, the book always does it better. While this is more true for some books more than others, one example of where the book really did it better for me is The Hobbit. I think what it comes down to is I prefer the less drawn out pacing of the short novel as opposed to the weighty feel of a trilogy of movies with a runtime of over seven hours. Despite that, there are some images that a motion picture can convey much better than the words on the page. One of my favorite scenes from any of the Hobbit movies comes from the very beginning when Biblo Baggins signs the contract to join Thorin’s company. He waited past the last second and then frantically runs through the Shire trying to catch up. On his way, he is asked where he is going and he exuberantly exclaims, “I’m going on an adventure!”
Bilbo is a character that a lot of people could relate to. When Biblo was first approached in the book about going on an adventure he said they were nasty business because they tended to interfere with dinner. He had a nice house decorated just perfectly with family heirlooms. Bilbo was content with life, and he was comfortable. A lot of people can identify with this. We tend to expend a whole lot of energy to ensure that we are content and comfortable. Yet like many people who are comfortable, there is a part of us, a part of our heart that longs adventure. We want to explore the great wide somewhere, and we want more meaning and purpose than what a comfortable life can offer. We want to go on an adventure. In the Hobbit, Biblo is invited by Gandalf to go on an adventure. In a life of faith, we are invited by Jesus himself to go on an adventure.
In the bible the gospels record how Jesus calls his first disciples. He does so with an invitation, and often the invitation was simple: “Follow me.” When Jesus called his first disciples they had some idea of what they were committing to. They knew there was something that about Jesus that was worth following. However, it is probably fair to say that they had no idea just how much of an adventure they were in for when they left their nets and stepped out of their boats. Today the invitation to faith is still same invitation from the risen Christ to follow me.
What makes someone a Christian is that we have responded “yes” to when Jesus said “follow me”. Following Jesus, should always lead to an adventure. The byproduct of following Jesus is that we should go to unexpected places and do unexpected things. It is not hard to find to stories and biographies of regular Christians doing extraordinary things and having the most amazing adventures. From Mother Teresa to Billy Graham to John Wesley to the countless missionaries who have traveled the world in the name of Christ, they all have one thing in common. They cared more about sharing the good news than being content and comfortable.
If we want our faith to be an epic adventure worth re-telling, one of the first things we have to do is sacrifice being comfortable. Many believers do not enter into faith looking to be comfortable. Often when someone first has an encounter with the living Christ they full of passion to follow God, full of urgency for the lost souls of others, and compassionate on the downtrodden. Yet, far too often the flames of a burning hot faith cool to embers.
Far too often we have been invited on a faith adventure, but we have chosen to pursue being comfortable instead. There is a scene in the Hobbit movie that draws a lot of inspiration from some of Tolkien’s words in the book. Bilbo Baggins is very comfortable in Bag’s End, and Gandalf challenges him. In the scene he says to Biblo: “You've been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me. When did doilies and your mother's dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who was always running off in search of Elves in the woods. He'd stay out late, come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young hobbit who would've liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It's out there.”
I feel like for many Christians Jesus could say the same thing: “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long.” Like Bilbo valued his books and maps, I greatly value corporate worship and bible study. However, a life changing faith will not be found just in our hymnals and bibles. It’s out there. It is not enough for us to know about God’s love, we have to practice that love. We are to be conduits of that love, so that through us other people know and experience God’s love. We are to share the love of God by being the hands of Christ that serve a needy world, and we share the love of God by being the feet of Christ that bring the good news to a lost world that the Kingdom of God has come near. It is only when we do that we get to truly experience and grasp, even in a small detail just how deep God’s love for all creation truly is. When we stop sitting quietly, when we get out of our proverbial boats, and follow Jesus wherever he is leading, then we will be going on quite an adventure.
Often the reason we end up pursing comfort is because it is comfortable, it is a safe quantity. An adventure is anything but safe. It is risky, and it will always leave us as different people than when we started. While I have nothing against Christian music, I think far too often we settle for a “Christian radio” faith. Every Christian radio station makes the same claims about themselves, usually in a jingle. They all claim to be safe, positive, and encouraging. Which is fine for music I suppose, but we have bought the lie that safe, positive, and encouraging should be the only words that describe our faith. Faith should also be transformative, daring, and adventurous. Faith in Christ is not about feeling safe and being told how good you are, faith in Christ is about knowing that no matter good you are not, God still loves you. Faith is about repenting and turning to that love. Faith is about going on a great adventure to tell others through our words and deeds the good news, the Kingdom of God has come near, and the savior is here.
Faith is meant to be an adventure. Adventures, by their nature, are stories that worth telling. If you have been setting quietly and comfortable for too long, then may you go find your story. Jesus still calls out to the people who will make great disciples, “follow me”. May you follow him. It will be risky, you will do unexpected things, but it will be the adventure of a lifetime. May you go on an adventure!