We all have that annoying little voice inside of us that urges us to do good or bad things-we call that voice our conscience. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo's conscience is personified in the guises of Sam and Gollum. From the moment Frodo and Sam meet Gollum, Sam and Gollum are in constant conflict with each other. Sam is the voice in Frodo's heart that says: "this is hard but I believe in you and I have faith in God that you will succeed and He loves you." Gollum is the part of Frodo that says: "Submit to your passions and let them lead you."
How many times have we heard these two conflicting voices? We are in a perpetual state of war with our conscience. God gives us free will because He loves us and would never force us to do those things that we do not want to do. God lets us choose where we put our faith: in Him or completely ignore Him and give in to our passions. If we choose faith in God, He asks us to pick up our cross and follow Him. He loves us so much that He only lets us carry what we can. He picks up the "slack." Like Sam, He's urges us to believe in Him and in ourselves and to have faith in His love for us. All he asks in return is for us to love Him.
Gollum on the other hand is the type of creature who needs to satisfy his every need because it's easier to do what satisfies the ego than to care for those around you. Gollum is vanity. The kind of love that keeps us isolated from God and from the world around us.
Frodo succeeded because Sam and Gollum (in an odd sort of way) were there for him. In the movie as they get closer and closer to Mount Doom and Frodo cannot walk one more step, Sam picks up Frodo and carries him all the way to Mount Doom. How many times in our lives have we sat down and felt as if this was the end and we would die here and now because there was nothing left inside of us to go on? During these moments, Christ is with us. He picks us up and carries us until we are strong enough to walk on our own. It's like the Footprints poem-in our lives there are two sets of prints and during the worst moments of our lives there's only one set. There is only one set because Christ is carrying us when we are in pain. Christ's cross is our sins and pains that He willingly died for us so we could have eternal life.
After Frodo and Sam reach Mount Doom, Frodo gives in to the same addictions and passions as Gollum. He decides that he wants to keep the Ring and therefore takes one step closer to becoming Gollum-a slave to his passion. However, Gollum is so consumed by his desire to possess the Ring that he mutilates Frodo's finger to retrieve "his Precious."
When the Ring and Gollum are finally consumed by the fires of Mount Doom that forged the Ring, Frodo finally understands that he became Gollum-not really alive but existing in life-the living dead. During Frodo's journey when he and Sam find Gollum, Frodo begins to see the terrible cost of the Ring in Gollum. Frodo begins to sympathize yet Frodo becomes afraid of what can happen to him if he submits to the Ring's corruption. It's because of what Frodo became that he forgives Gollum. Frodo tells Sam, "But for him [Gollum], Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him [Gollum]." (p. 241-Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).
With that simple phrase "...So let us forgive him," Tolkien is revealing to us the theme of the Lord of the Rings-forgiveness, mercy and grace for our enemies and friends and that love ultimately destroys all evil in the end (see: "The Lure of the Obvious in Peter Jackson's The Return of the King" by Ralph C. Wood in Christianity Today, Dec. 17, 2003). Christ knew this when He was hanging on the cross. Christ had the power to save Himself from a horrible death but for His love for us He didn't. He knew that His death would be the ultimate sacrifice and that by His death, He destroyed death and gave us eternal life. Without Sam and Gollum, Frodo would have failed. Sometimes we all need is to recognize our passions and forgive ourselves in order to complete our journey towards Christ.
Lia Lewis is graduate of Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary and works as a staff assistant at Princeton University.