I can be an acquaintance with anyone, but to be a true friend of mine, you must love the Lord of the Rings.
I’m only joking, but I do appreciate anyone who sees the biblical truth that shines beneath the surface of such a massive and beautiful story-line. J.R.R. Tolkien was a master of world-building and culture-crafting. Though the movies are focused primarily on the action, some readers have complained about the excruciating level of detail that he included in his books. The reason for this characteristic of his writing is simple: his passion was not blood-shed, but beauty.
Whether the reader finds themselves transported to the Shire to meddle in hobbit-holes, to the Misty Mountains to cross through suffocating blizzards, or to Mordor to look into the faces of innumerable orcs, Tolkien provides what, to some, is mind-numbing a detail. But what he saw was purpose behind the particulars. Whether nostalgic for home or dread over coming threats, Tolkien knew that God’s purposes could be found beneath it all.
One of my favorite symbols in the books is Samwise Gamgee who proved to be quite the hero in a tiny Hobbit’s body. There are actually a number of reasons one might consider him a Christ-figure along the way, but I find it easier to draw comparisons between him and the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the most consistent quality of his that shines through the storyline is his faithfulness. A favorite quote of many from the Fellowship of the Ring happens when Frodo plans to continue his journey alone in a boat and headed into the vast unknown. Sam means to swim to his boat when Frodo cries, “Go back, Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone.” To which Sam replies, “Of course you are. And I’m coming with you!” After wading into the water and nearly drowning in his pursuit until Frodo draws him into the boat, Sam tells his friend, “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise! ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to! I don’t mean to.”
To Sam, this relationship with his friend and his desire for the cause of good overwhelmed all temptations to flee extreme danger. Even when Frodo is overcome by the influence of the Ring and Gollum’s lies and he commands Sam to leave, Sam refuses to leave Frodo’s side and rescues him from imminent danger.
This is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His followers that He must leave this world in order to send a “Helper” who will guide them into all truth (John 16:7, 13). This brings context to Jesus’s statement in the Great Commission when He comforts believers with the statement that “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). How might our Savior always be with us even when He must leave our side? He does this through the power of the Holy Spirit that is incessantly faithful.
Though this won’t be an exhaustive treatment of the subject, there is one other important note that makes a comparison between Sam and the Holy Spirit. He continues to remind his friend to never give up even as his strength was faltering. Towards the end of the perilous journey, Frodo is no longer strong enough to complete his calling and destroy the One Ring. Who is it that shows up to save the day? Faithful Sam literally carries his friend up the side of Mount Doom. Where Frodo could not complete the mission in his own power, there was a “helper” sent to carry the debilitating burden.
Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
For all who would receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, they have this eternal Guide and Encourager. Even more faithful than Samwise Gamgee and ever-more capable of providing strength to us when we’re in need, the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Triune God and a promise fulfilled in the lives of those who would receive the gift of salvation. If you have not experienced this relationship and have interest, please let us know.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff