Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month let me catch you up.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens released in December, and it was awesome.
For 33 years of my life I avoided the Star Wars franchise. I had not seen a single Star Wars movie in its entirety nor did I understand (or even care to understand) its deep fan obsession.
That is until our older son fell in love with Star Wars.
It started subtly in the beginning, with the shift from LEGO City to LEGO Star Wars (much to my dismay). That small shift rapidly grew into a full-on passion. It wasn’t long before I had a hard time carrying on conversations with him because everything came back to Star Wars…and I was clueless.
Christmas of 2014 I decided that something had to change so I acquiesced and asked for the entire Star Wars anthology for Christmas, Episode I through Episode VI. It wasn’t long until I found myself immersed in the story and quickly becoming a fan.
It remained obvious that I was a new fan; because I liked characters like Jar Jar Binks and General Grievous. Nevertheless I was now a fan (albeit a very novice one).
After finishing Episode III (I watched all six in their original release order) my anticipation really began to grow for the release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Thankfully being a latecomer to the Star Wars universe left me with a much shorter wait than most!
Our first viewing of The Force Awakens was about a week before Christmas. It was our opportunity to ‘screen’ the movie at the request of our son Micah. He wanted us to watch it first to be sure he wouldn’t get scared. Talk about wisdom!
Recently we went for a second viewing, this time with Micah in tow.
Watching the film for a second time brought many things into a whole new light; and at times even became a very spiritual as I watched.
Let me pause here and tell you from here on out is a major spoiler. If you haven’t seen Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens yet, and you don’t want to spoil some of the major plot lines of the film then STOP READING!
Seriously, you won’t hurt my feelings.
Those of you that have seen the film know that there is a major event that takes place. Even as a Star Wars newbie I felt the magnitude of what was happening; and I can only imagine what the moment must have felt like to those who have followed the franchise since day one.
The moment I’m talking about is the encounter between Han Solo and Kylo Ren inside of Star Killer Base. It is an encounter that painted a haunting picture of the dichotomy between us and Jesus.
Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia; and the force runs through him. He was a padawan in training under Luke Skywalker before he found himself being seduced by the Dark Side. Now, under the oversight of Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren has become the face of the Dark Side.
He is wrestling with it though. There is an inner turmoil happening between the Light Side and the Dark Side. We catch a cut-away seen of him earlier in the movie wrestling with the path he should stay on.
The first time I saw this cut-away scene I was reminded of Paul, as he penned the truth that what he wants to do he doesn’t; but what he doesn’t want to do he does.
As Kylo Ren is seeking out Han Solo inside Star Killer Base he finds himself standing in the middle of a very long bridge over a seemingly endless traverse of space; very much like the one cast in the encounter between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Han sees Kylo Ren out on the bridge and immediately heads towards the bridge and calls out to him.
Despite the new name Kylo Ren had received that was wrapped up in his Dark Side identity, he still had an authentic name and identity that came from his father.
Han walked out towards his son on the bridge and began to speak with him. He began to urge him back to the Light Side; telling him there is still good in him. The father was beckoning his son to come home. The past wasn’t as important as the future.
Kyle Ren responds in dialogue. Again we feel the same Paul-esque struggle. While some may argue that Kylo Ren’s struggle in this moment was simply about executing what the Dark Side would want, I felt that it truly was a struggle again between choosing the path of light or darkness.
In this moment a father was beckoning his son to come home. Offering restoration. Forgiveness. Wholeness. Grace. Yet, deep down he had to have the sense that he knew Kylo Ren would reject it.
He knew how powerful the dark side was.
In the background as the sun was finally drained of its light and turned to darkness, so too did we see Kylo Ren succumbing to the darkness. Despite his father’s pleading, the son could not rest in the identity his father gave him rather remained seduced by something he felt was greater.
Han Solo didn’t survive the encounter.
The first time I watched I was left in shock; for the rest of the movie. The second time I watched the shock was gone but it became an extremely spiritual moment.
How often do we find ourselves doing that very thing to Jesus?
He gives us identity. He gives us purpose. We are his beloved.
Yet somewhere along the way we become seduced by the world rather than the ways of Jesus. Our identity no longer remains wrapped up in him rather wrapped up in other things. Wealth. Sensuality. Power. Self.
And we stand there in the middle of the bridge, wrestling like Paul wrestled. Wrestling like so many others have through the course of history. On one side the darkness is calling to us. Tempting us with its power and pleasure.
On the other end of the bridge stands Jesus. He is calling us by our name. He is offering us our identity back. He is offering us forgiveness. He is extending redemption and reconciliation.
He is calling us home.
So as I watched that red saber blade pierce through Han Solo the second time, my heart broke again. Not because of a beloved character being eliminated, but because I saw Jesus being ‘slayed’ by our own desires.
I broke because I think we’ve all been there.
We’ve all had Jesus calling to us and we’ve chosen darkness over light.
It is truly heartbreaking. But there is beauty in the store too. The beauty is found in the Father’s love.
The Father that continues to call to us as the darkness pulls us away.
The Father that reminds us of our identity that is found only in Him.
The Father that walks out on the bridge even when He knows that His crucifixion was the result of our darkness.
Every day we stand on that bridge. We wrestle that same battle.