There was this show on TV called Lost. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Anyways, one of the characters on it was named Ben Linus. He was the leader of the ‘others’, a group of mysterious people that lived on the island before the plane crash happened and these outsiders showed up. He was really manipulative, lying and breaking promises all the time. Constantly in power plays to keep him on top and in charge.
At his core, Ben wanted to be someone special, someone who was worth more to Jacob (the guardian of the island) and to the island it’s self than anyone else. His scheming and lies never really got him that worth though. Even though he was sufficient and had everything he could want (power, money, position, control) he was constantly fighting to keep it or scheming to get more because his life was never truly fulfilled. In the end, everything he thought he had was taken away from him and given to other people. He was left with nothing.
Out of all the characters on Lost, I relate to Ben the most. I’m constantly trying to scheme and figure out how to get all I want, but in the end sufficiency isn’t going to give me the worth, purpose, value, and meaning I’m actually craving deep down. If I had all the money and things I want, all that will make me sufficient, would I be satisfied and fulfilled? No, I wouldn’t. My hunger for worth and meaning can only be filled by God. Then why do I strive, work and (in subtle and not so subtle ways) worship this idea of sufficiency, the idea that I can be/gain enough to fulfill me.
Ben used his belief as a stepping stone to get him sufficiency. When it didn’t work out like he planned, he abandoned his belief and followed another master (the smoke monster)… at least until he could get more power/sufficiency by believing in Jacobs plan again. He was very two faced, doing what suited his desires for the moment. Am I using my belief as a stone to get me something I’m craving, or am I believing, and finding my hunger filled by the Stone the builders rejected, the Bread of life?
These are hard questions to ask myself. They cut to my deepest heart, lay it bare, and show me that I’m not the kind of person I sometimes pretend to be: sufficient, having it under control, in charge of my own existence. These questions show me that I am struggling to prove my self, to hide my weakness from people, and all around self involved as if my personal prestige was what truly mattered. All in all, not the kind of person I really want to be… not the kind of person Jesus wants me to be.
I would rather be Hurley.
Hurley had money, fame, and charisma. The ‘sideways universe’ showed us that if Hurley hadn’t crashed landed on the island, he would have been everything we imagine as successful. Given the same means, power, and sufficiency that Ben Linus had, Hurley lived a much different life than Ben. Where Ben lived and schemed for his own sufficiency, position, and power, Hurley tried to use what he had to enrich others lives.
It is a huge difference of character. Ben kept trying for more; Hurley kept doing for the good of others. Ben built a secret room in his home to keep himself safe and protected; Hurley build a golf course so other people could find some enjoyment and relaxation. Ben wanted control of the island; Hurley reluctantly accepted the guardian position from a self-sacrificing Jack. Ben wanted to be reliant on no one; Hurley asked for help from Ben in protecting the island.
The way that Hurley was so others focused, so not grasping for power and self-reliance, brought about good in others lives. Most notably, Hurley brought about the beginning of redemption in Ben’s life by giving him a purpose and a position, declaring that Ben was indeed needed.
Hurley: “You were a great number two.”
Ben: “You were a great number one.”
Hurley willingly gave Ben the worth he had been looking for, even after all the hurt and destruction Ben’s scheming and striving for self sufficiency had caused.
I may relate to Ben in lots of areas, but I would rather be Hurley. I’d rather be the kind of man that uses what little or lot he has to help others find good and what they are truly looking for. I would rather have the kind of character that Jesus wants me to have.
What about you?