There are times when our thoughts and ideas about almost insignificant things become a door into deeper things. Recently I had a conversation with someone very important in my life about fiction writing. As part of our conversation we began discussing different characters and character heroes in books and films.

Our conversation reached its most intense and frictional episode when I was wrestling with the idea that Frodo Baggins, a main character behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books and films, was the true epic hero of the saga. I concluded that my friend was right and that Frodo indeed is the true hero behind the story–but I couldn’t help but struggle with the realization because I wanted Aragorn, the ranger turned king, to be the epic hero behind the victory of good over evil.

Struggling with Frodo and all his virtues and weaknesses, I was led to the understanding that my issue with the character of Frodo has more to do with a matter of the human heart than just an innocent point of view. The reason why I struggled with Frodo, and not Aragorn, being the true hero is because I had a hard time accepting that Frodo, with all his vices, weakness of character, lack of trust in his friends, and almost full betrayal of Sam, could accomplish so much and be given so much credit as saving Middle-Earth. For some reason, even though obvious in the story, I couldn’t accept it.

The crazy thing is that what came out of my mouth was the following line: “I simply can’t see Jesus using someone like Frodo in the real world–with all his issues and weaknesses– and actually making a true agent of good and salvation out of him.” I realized, through a conversation about characters in stories, that my struggle with a hero like Frodo had to do more with my view of Jesus than what I initially thought.

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When we look at Aragorn, the savage ranger who leads the armies of Men and Elves to victory against Mordor and goes on to become king, it’s hard not to like what you see. Aragorn, as a character, has no weaknesses and vices. He is just, honorable, compassionate, loving, pure of heart, brave,  and, above all, heroic. Some would argue that in Aragorn we see all the virtues and traits that we would like to see, and recognize, as the best possible traits an individual could have. It is really hard, as a human, to reject Aragorn because in many ways he is that which many of us would like to be.

Looking at Frodo we see weaknesses, frustration, sorrow, pain, and even corruption. Frodo, who begins his journey as a friendly and loving guy, ends the saga almost completely torn apart by the pain and evil of the One Ring of Power. In Frodo we see that effects of evil, sin, corruption, lack of trust, and hatred and the impact–to an extreme–that those things have in our relationships with other. In Frodo’s case, his brokenness tears at his friendship with his best friend Sam. What is there to love in Frodo? I feel like half way through the books and movies I rather skip his scenes or tear those pages away. However, the reason why Frodo is so hard to love is because in Frodo we see ourselves.

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Aragorn is easy to love because he is almost Messianic in nature. He is a low ranger of the woods who is actually the descendant to the throne of Gondor–King Elessar Telcontar, descendant of King Elendil. Aragorn is a warrior-king and perfect in character and in action. He is loyal to his friends but the worst possible nightmares to the enemies of good.

But Frodo is us and in him we see the struggle of the Christian as we push through life: realizing how the blows out spirit and heart take impact every corner of who we are.

The beautiful thing about Frodo, I know understand, is that he is the sinner Jesus came to save. Frodo is the sinner in need of a Savior and the weak man in need of God’s loving hand. The Ring of Power represents the weight of sin in our lives and also the constant temptations and attempts by the Enemy at tearing us apart from the path God has set out for us. In Frodo we see the path of perseverance as we push on even though, at times, He who is our most loyal friend may be depicted by the Enemy as a torn on the side.

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Near the end of the film we see Frodo and Sam on top of a rock surrounded by lava, having destroyed the Ring of Power. From the skies we see a Eagle come down and pick them up–saving them from the destruction that surrounds them. In this imagery we see the true promises of God, that if we persevere in our walk of faith, even through the sin and the darkness, there is true love and salvation waiting for us. Just like Frodo, we are broken and easily corrupted. One day we may hug our brother and the next day find ourselves stabbing them in the back. But Jesus offers us so much more and so much hope.

Aragorn is easy to love because, just like Jesus, he is perfect (disregarding a few tough critics of Aragorn). In Frodo we see ourselves, and even though it may be hard to appreciate and love what we see, we must remember that we are the ones Jesus loved and died for. Jesus can transform our worlds through our lives if we simply believe He is able to.

Believe and be inspired.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

John 14: 12-14

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