This week, I came across the greatest article! In it, Nicolas Gentile (in photo), wanted to change things in his life up a bit. The 37-year-old Italian pastry chef spent his life savings to develop his land into a place of his dreams – a “shire” for those familiar with Lord of the Rings culture.
It began as a desire to build a home for his wife, two kids, and himself to live a hobbit-like lifestyle. However, once he threw a hobbit-inspired party on the lot, he realized that he could include a bed-and-breakfast and have folks from around the world come and join him in this lifestyle.
This fascination goes beyond this new Shire, though. He also created a “fellowship” of his own to travel a 280-kilometer (174-mile) trip to Italy’s Vesuvius. “For what reason?” you might ask. To throw a ring into it, of course.
This wanna-be hobbit has grand plans for the future and many excited fans who are looking forward to watching things progress. The question is posed, then – “why such interest in a world that is not physically here but must be drawn from this book?” Gentile explained that he is drawn to these stories so strongly because of the spirit behind it all. He explained that Tolkien wrote one of his favorite quotes when he attributed the following [paraphrased] to Gandalf the Gray: “It is not great deeds or great heroes who change the world, but small acts of kindness and love.” He went on to describe his hopes that all humanity could be kind to each other in simple ways and join together in a very different, but magical outlook on life. As they all would join together, they could aspire to even bigger things in the world.
Isn’t that wonderful? I resonate with his thoughts, not because I want to be a hobbit, but because these ideas so closely resemble the future of God’s kingdom. You see?
- Just as the Shire is drawn from Tolkien’s literature, so Christ’s kingdom is displayed in God’s Word.
- Just as the Shire must be pursued and created in our world, so Jesus prayed that God’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Just as Gentile was drawn to these stories because of the “spirit” behind them, so we are drawn to the Kingdom of God because of His Spirit that draws us to Himself.
- Just as Gandalf described that kindness and love change the world, so God instills in us the Fruit of the Spirit which is not meant to war with this world, but represent the God of Love to those who do not know Him.
- Just as Gentile hopes to aspire to bigger things than simply building a shire, so we recognize that Christ’s kingdom coming to earth is not desired simply to create a “better status quo”, but to bring attention to the character of God which overflows from it.
So then I ask you, reader, how like-minded are you with Nicolas Gentile? Just as he is willing to go so far out of his way to spread the message of this Shire, are you willing to go out of your way to live out the character of Christ’s kingdom and the heavenly culture? Are you willing to become something that you are not, naturally? Will you die to the flesh and put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:31) and put on the Fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)?
I have to pose this question to myself continually. I, so often, find that I can be hypocritical about what I teach. I share God’s Word about loving sacrificially and making decisions that are most pure – being those things that, whether easy or impossibly hard, most glorify God. In my heart, I’m very aware of the ways I fall short. So, I become much more mindful of my need of a Savior, which I’m evermore grateful for, but also the ways that I’m too content with my Ephesians 4:31 sins and not excited enough to pursue the Galatians 5:22-23 Fruit of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit makes available to us.
That is why we must see Nicolas Gentile as one to imitate – not for his passion for the Lord of the Rings (though he’s got great tastes) – but for his willingness to buy into an otherworldly culture that inspires him to live for something outside of himself. Rather than walking around dressed as hobbits, we can give ourselves over to walking around looking more like Christ for the world to see His hope, love, and desire that none would perish, but have an abundance of life (2 Peter 3:9; John 10:10).
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff