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The Gospel according to Star Wars

Michael McVeigh  |  11 March 2016

The latest Star Wars movie broke box office records over the summer, bringing people the latest chapter in the saga of the Skywalker family. Of course, the Bible is also full of family stories. What are some of the relationship lessons that we can find in the Star Wars movies as well as in the Bible? 

1. Our family’s history is part of our story

Star Wars is a story about family. The original Star Wars movie begins with an orphaned Luke staring into the wide beyond, desiring to leave his life on Tattooine and follow in the footsteps of his father. In the latest film, The Force Awakens, the main character Rey is driven by her desire to reunite with her family and discover her past. Over the course of the movies, characters discover their family history, and in the process, come to understand their place in the universe and their purpose for being there. 

The Bible, particularly in the early books, is a book of genealogy. The stories of Adam, Moses and Abraham and their descendants helped the Jewish people understand where they came from and how their story was intertwined with God’s. Jesus drew on this historical understanding in his ministry and teaching. Without the Jewish people’s understanding of their special relationship with God, Jesus would not have been able to reveal himself to them as God’s son. 

Questions for reflection:

How much do you know about your family history? How has people’s relationship with God changed over the generations? How does that understanding shape how you live your life and what you see as your God-given purpose in the world? 

2. Our future isn’t predetermined 

While understanding the past is important, Star Wars shows us that we’re not doomed to repeat it. When Luke discovers his father became Darth Vader and helped bring about the destruction of the Jedi, he is devastated. He is warned that he might also succumb to that path. But he has a choice, too. He can choose to walk on the path of the light. 

The Bible stories show how failing to follow God leads the Jewish people to ruin over and over again. Prophets such as Elijah and Isaiah are determined to walk a different path. They looked at the world around them, and described how it was failing to live up to the vision outlined by God. Jesus, too, saw a better way to live, and urged people to join him in living it. 

Questions for reflection: 

What lessons have you learned from your parents’ lives that can help guide your own? In what ways do you want to improve on the world you have inherited? How will your relationship with God be different to that of your parents?

3. Fear is the path to the Dark Side

When Luke begins his training in the Star Wars movies, he is warned by Master Yoda that fear is the path to the Dark Side. ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering’, Yoda tells him. He wasn’t saying that fear itself is wrong, but that Luke needed to be careful that the urge to protect those he cared about didn’t lead him to cause suffering to others. 

There are a number of Bible stories where people’s fear leads them to cause suffering. One is the story of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis, where Cain’s fear of losing God’s favour leads him to rise up against his brother and kill him. Fear can lead us away from God. Jesus often told his followers, ‘Do not be afraid’. His God wasn’t a remote father to be feared, but someone who dearly loved his children. 

Questions for reflection: 

How does fear get in the way of your relationships with others and with God? How do the things we fear lead us to cause suffering to others in our society? How can we live less fearfully? 

4. To love is to be merciful

Even the Jedi masters, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, were wary of Luke’s plan to offer mercy to his father in the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi. Yet Luke’s mercy not only brought about his father’s redemption, it also brought about the downfall of the evil Empire. In the latest film, we see another gesture of mercy between a father and son – but this time, we see the sad consequences of when that offer is not taken up. Mercy is never easy. 

There are many stories in the Bible where human beings break their promise to be faithful to God. Yet each time, God renews his promise to them. In the story of Noah, the evils of humanity are punished by a worldwide flood. Yet the faithful Noah is allowed to live, and bring about a new civilisation. God’s promise to remain faithful to humanity is symbolised by the rainbow that appears after the storm. 

Questions for reflection: 

How difficult is it to show mercy to people who hurt us? How often do we choose to punish offenders instead of offering them the chance to redeem themselves? How might God’s love show us a different way? 

 

 

Topic tags: healthycommunitylife, responsiblerelationships, valuesandmoraldecision-making, familylife

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