Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Star Wars Jesus: A Lesson in Faith

Caleb Grimes - Author

When Luke pilots his X-wing down the trench of the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon is within seconds of launching its planet-destroying blast. Most of the other fighters have already been annihilated and Luke’s best friend has been gunned down, leaving Luke as the only Rebel Alliance pilot remaining in the trench. Darth Vader and two of his special wing men are closing in right behind Luke, the last hope of the Rebels.

What does Luke do at this critical moment? Does he become too distraught over the loss of his childhood friend Biggs to go on? No. Does he lose concentration with three very imposing TIE fighters bearing down on his X-wing, his death an imminent certainty? No.

Instead, he responds to the sound of Ben Kenobi’s voice inside his head.

Ben — “Use the Force, Luke. (Pause) Let go, Luke! (Longer Pause) Luke, trust me.” (Episode IV: A New Hope, George Lucas)

With the future of the universe dramatically hanging on this one moment, Luke turns off his navigational computer and targeting device that would allow him to fire a small proton torpedo into the extremely small, unprotected vent opening that was the Death Star's only weakness. This action is ludicrous, if not for the Force.

Han Solo and Chewbacca, aboard the Millennium Falcon, race in at the last moment before Vader pushes a trigger to kill Luke and fire a blast that sends Vader’s spacecraft spinning wildly off into deep space. Luke then is able to focus his energy on targeting the exhaust port manually, his eyes and hands guided by the Force. He hits the impossible target at the very last moment possible, and streaks away to escape the devastating blast as the Death Star explodes.

This is the single best demonstration of how to practice faith that I have ever seen.

Here's the interpretation: you are willing to do the work God draws you to do. Life’s distractions come at you fast and furious. The devil will do anything to distract you. You use all the technology that man is able to muster, all the knowledge, all the skills, and all the abilities. You use all the assets that are available to you, and still it is not enough. No matter how much technology we ever have, no matter how much we ever train or learn, we come to moments when we understand that a task is impossible. What must be done we cannot accomplished on our own. We ask for help from a higher power whom we hope is out there to somehow come to our aid in this moment of crisis.

Finally, we win, or reach the goal, or do the impossible. There is a great mystery in our doing great works, both large and small. What connects our “as best we can do” ends with the beginning of success is God. The work takes faith. The practice of faith is the reason why the journey is as important as the destination.

For example, our knowing God is a work that ironically we cannot do on our own. Neither science nor theology will ever prove the existence of God. It is good for science to continue. It is good for theology to continue. In fighting the first Death Star, it is better for Luke to use an X-wing fighter than a bicycle. The more scientific knowledge we obtain, then the more we know about the universe. The further we go in our study of God and what he says about himself and the more we observe him at work in our world, the more we know about God.

If God exists, then He certainly created the universe and mankind along with it. He knows the universe and knows every person that has ever lived. If God exists, he must want us to know more, more, and more about everything. Like Luke in the trench, however, our abilities will always be limited. We must use the Force to “practice being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Here is a more mundane example. You have TV, movies, games, a house, cars, music, religion, social groups, money, a job, sexual temptations, hobbies, personal hang-ups, injuries, careers, etc., that are all trying to distract you from loving your kids, your spouse, and yourself. All these distractions can also prevent you from knowing and loving God more deeply. How do you live?

We are all racing down that same trench on the surface of the Death Star with seconds to go before life blows the ones we love into astro dust. Darth Vader’s hand is on the trigger ready to blast us into nothingness. Our task is to launch a proton torpedo down a shaft that is six feet wide from a distance of a half mile even as we travel at hundreds of miles an hour in order to save our universe. There just ain’t no way, no how.

But God did not just wind some clock.  He did not predetermine our fate then leave.  Instead, along comes God’s personal and timely blessing.  In Luke's case it came in the form of a renegade unbeliever, Han Solo, who directs a laser blast at Vader’s TIE fighter that sends the villain flying. Then the Holy Spirit is like Ben Kenobi who directs us to turn off the very last part of our technical world, the minutiae of a torpedo targeting system that symbolizes total faith in man. Then Ben says, “Use the Force, Luke.”

In like fashion God, says to us today,

Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge me, and I will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Han and Chewbacca fly in and blast Vader away. Han says, “You’re all clear, kid. Now blow this thing and we can all go home.” From out of nowhere, God’s extra providence and help clear obstacles, allowing us to once again concentrate on the target even as life and all its details start flying around us. We practice God’s presence just as Luke feels the Force in the X-wing before he targets the torpedo. He is—we are—supernaturally led. The one shot in a million happens! The super-evil monstrosity of the Death Star blows up just before it can destroy the Rebel base. The mighty Empire suffers a major defeat at the hands of a tiny, insignificant Rebel band.

What we learn is that it is good to take all the technology, all the skills, all the abilities that we have available to us, learn them, master them, then apply them to our task. We try as hard and as smart as we can to accomplish something, but it is never enough. There is always that impossible part of a work that cannot happen without God’s help, whether we know it, know him, or even believe in him.

Understanding this metaphor can help us understand that we are flawed. We will never create some science that disproves or proves God. We are never going to create some technological device that eliminates all suffering. We are not evolving into some master race that no longer sins. God’s help is always necessary, and our practice of faith—much like Luke using the Force in the Death Star’s trench—is always required.

*Devotion from Caleb Grimes’ new book, Star Wars Jesus, A Spiritual Commentary on the Reality of the Force. Used with permission.

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