The Gospel According To…Star Wars

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Series Disclaimer: The writers of this series do not endorse everything found in these movies. Please use discretion on what is beneficial for you or your family to watch. Our hope is to help us look at the movies (and all of life) through the eyes of faith! (Also, Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen these movies, we will give away a lot of what happens!)

I can still remember it like it was yesterday. 1981. I was nine years old, and my family was going to a theatrical re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope. Our Friday night meal at Pizza Hut had taken a little longer than we thought, and the box office lines were long, so we got into the theater after the movie had already started. When we were walking down the aisle towards our seats, there was a huge space ship (an Imperial Star Destroyer for you fans) flying overhead on the screen. I was mesmerized. I stopped walking and just stood still in the middle of the aisle. What was this world (or galaxy) that I had just entered?

And so began my immersion into the Star Wars universe. I was all in. I collected the action figures, and played out countless stories with them on our living room couch. I checked out books from the library and studied the space ships, creatures and worlds of the galaxy far, far away…

A few years later, I got to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. As the saga unfolded, I had the sense that this story was about much more than cool technology and daring exploits of brave heroes. Something bigger was going on… Wait a minute! The BAD guy was the GOOD guy’s father? Where is this going?

Then, as J.R.R. Tolkien calls it: the eucatastrophe. In Star Wars: Return of The Jedi, all of the stories I had ever experienced were turned upside down.   

Let me give you some background. I grew up in southeast Iowa and had the pleasure of hanging out with my grandparents who were dyed-in-the-wool (literally, they raised sheep!) old-school farmers. I watched a lot of old black and white westerns with my Grandpa. These were literally and figuratively black and white! The good guys were always pure and true, and the bad guys were always straight up, irredeemably bad. Nothing to do but cut them down with the trusty Colt .45 or Winchester rifle. Good guys kill bad guys. That’s what we do.

And then came Star Wars. 

Luke, the good guy, loves his father, the bad guy. Luke doesn’t turn a blind eye to the evil that is in his father. However, he unshakably believes that his father can be redeemed.

And so, at the climactic moment of the story, rather than kill the bad guy, Luke lays himself down for him. And you know what happens? The bad guy becomes good. The stories I had been fed for a long time were shaped in a new way…

And the Gospel became more real to me. Maybe…just maybe…this messed up, broken, sinful teenager—me, could become good. Maybe the unshakeable love of His Father in Heaven continues to believe that this lonely, broken adolescent can be redeemed. Maybe the good Son, Jesus, continues to love this pimply, selfish young man sacrificially. 

I was given hope. A New Hope.