Jesus Christ: Jedi Master

The Star Wars sagas are rich with spiritual metaphor. In the original film, Obi-Wan is a Christ figure, and Luke his disciple (it’s no accident the main character of Episode IV is named Luke). When Obi-Wan dies and tells Luke “Remember, the Force will be with you always,” he’s echoing Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:20, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
I could spend a year picking out all the spiritual analogies in Star Wars, but today I just want us to think about one of its main plot devices, The Force, and how characters who are tuned into The Force—both light and dark, are so similar to characters we read about in the Bible.
 
In particular, I’d like us to think about The Force and the Jedi as an excellent way to reframe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, and somewhat paradoxically, Star Wars gives us new language to use about Jesus that enables us to relate to him in a more authentic, First Century, CE, way.
 
It’s pretty amazing that a movie as popular as the Star Wars series is, in essence, a story about the power of God. It’s a story about The Force, and the way people use (and are used by) it. The characters in the movie explain The Force as an energy that is always around and running through, all things.
 
Is this not exactly what the entire Gospel of John is about? John 4:24: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship God must worship God in spirit and in truth." When Jesus says, “I and my Father are one” in John 10:30, he’s talking about God within, or The Force within us all. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
 
The list goes on and on, and of course, the idea of God as an inherent energy flowing through us and the entire universe isn’t exclusive to John’s Gospel, or even the Second Testament. The idea of God as a universal force is present in every spiritual tradition. So it’s somewhat surprising that this very religious idea is the plot fulcrum upon which the entire Star Wars universe hinges.
 
Without The Force, there would be no Star Wars. It is the masters of The Force who stand up to the oppression of the Empire because they understand how perverse the Empire is. Jedi Masters—and even Padawan (and we’re all Padawan) understand that realization of oneness changes the entire universe and dissolves hatred and fear. This sort of socialist, loving unity stands in stark contrast to the iron fist of control wielded by the Empire.
 
Of course, the idea that we are all interconnected and should, therefore, treat each other with love and compassion, has always run contrary to the ideas of the secular world.
 
Star Wars makes this point abundantly clear.
 
In interviews, George Lucas has said that Star Wars is, at least in part, an attempt to portray secularism’s complete dismissal of religion. Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back, where everyone is sitting in the Death Star briefing room, and the Admiral is going on and on about how great and powerful the Death Star is?
 
Darth Vader’s response is that they shouldn’t be too excited about the power of the Death Star because that power is nothing compared to the power of The Force. It is a clear dig at the idea that technological marvels—which are the false idols of our current era, are nothing compared to the power of God.
 
Too great a reliance on technology, in fact, ends up being the Empire’s Achilles heal. There is no faith alive within the Empire, and that lack of faith that Vader finds so disturbing ends up allowing them to be destroyed by Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan’s greatest disciple, a lone pilot in a single X-Wing fighter who brings down the crown jewel of the Empire. And how does Luke do that? By using The Force—after, of course, he’s reminded by Obi-Wan to do so.
 
Is it not obvious that Luke is a stand-in for every single one of us, and Obi-Wan is the Christ, urging us to utilize the power of God that flows within each of us as completely as it did in Jesus? We are Jesus’ disciples, and as such, he tasks us to be good students and learn everything he teaches—and everything he teaches can be summed up in one sentence: The Force is all around and within us, always.
 
All we have to do is believe.
 
Lucas gives credit for his ideas about The Force to two primary sources: Carlos Castaneda, whose mind-bending books about hallucinogenic journeys with Don Quixote will change the way you look at reality forever. In a good way.
 
Lucas’ second influence comes from Roman Kroitor, a visual effects pioneer who said, "Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God."
 
Lucas has said that “The idea behind The Force in Star Wars, however, is universal: Similar phrases have been used extensively by many different people for the last 13,000 years to describe the 'life force.'”
 
Doesn’t that seem like part of our task as students of Jesus? To be able to describe this “life-force” that we feel running through all things? This thing we call God? I think that, in this secular world, where more people reject religion than embrace it, The Force has become a good way for us to start a conversation about God. And this conversation probably needs to be less about religion than it does about spirituality. This point is brought up in the Star Wars films as well when Darth Vader is taken to task for still believing in “that old religion.” It’s not religion Vader believes in. It’s God. And most of the time, the two have nothing to do with each other. And yes, I’ve just made Darth Vader a hero.
 
For people who believe God is the energy force of all being (and that idea transcends any formal religion) Star Wars presents a good way for us to start a conversation about Jesus, or Moses, or Lao-Tzu, or Mohammed, or any of the great spiritual masters who have transcended time and space to come to this reality to teach us there is more than this reality.
 
For Christians, Star Wars gives us an opportunity to introduce people to a Jesus they have probably never heard of: the teacher, the spiritual master, the person so perfectly in tune with God that he can perform miracles, the person who dies trying to teach us how to do the same.
 
I mean, if we think about it deeply enough, the Gospels were the Star Wars of their time and place. Jesus is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of his day. Luke is his disciple, as of course are many others. There are many Jedi in the Gospels!
 
Jesus is a Jedi Master—he can manipulate The Force, which we have now determined, is an ancient idea about the energy of God. Jesus uses God’s energy—intrinsic to all beings, to heal people. He uses The Force, the energy of God, to find the courage to stand up against the Empire.
 
Jesus accomplishes all this because he knows that everything is energy, and everything is one and the same substance of God. Jesus knows The Force is around and within, always. All those scenes in Star Wars with people grabbing light sabers out of the snow, or finding the inner strength to let a greater power than themselves deal the final light saber blow to the Dark Lord? Those concepts and those stories are straight from the Bible, straight from the teachings of Jesus, and they open up a new opportunity for people like us to get people thinking that, just maybe, this is more than a fairy-tale.
 
There is truth in the Star Wars mythology, and it’s a truth that lies at the heart of the Gospels as well. It’s an ancient truth: We are one.
 
So, what does it take to use The Force? The answer, in both Star Wars and the Gospels, is quite simple: It takes faith.
 
And why do Jesus’ disciples fail so miserably time and time again? Because, like the Empirical Council on the Death Star, as Darth Vader so poignantly points out, they lack faith. They simply do not believe, and so they cannot accomplish. This idea—that one must believe in order to do is repeated time and again throughout the Star Wars saga, as it is throughout the Gospels.
 
And of course, neither Obi-Wan’s nor Jesus’ disciples get things right the first time. Tuning into The Force takes practice and patience. Luke practices everywhere: in the Millennium Falcon. He studies with Yoda. He finds Jedi Masters all over the place and learns from them. And consistently his teachers tell him to keep practicing—but not to keep trying. They tell him to keep doing.
 
When Yoda ask a Luke to lift an X-Wing fighter out of the swamp, Luke says, “I’m trying.” And what does Yoda respond? “And that is why you fail. Do not try. Just do.”
 
It’s about faith—about faith in the power of God flowing around and within. For many, it’s about faith in what Jesus says, does and teaches as examples of the reality of God’s power within every single one of us. Martin Luther King, Jr., understood this. Gandhi understood this. Moses understood this. Thousands of regular people like you and I have understood this: We all have the potential to be Jedi Masters.
 
Just imagine something for a moment. After you read the next section, close your eyes and open your mind.
 
Picture a world where the majority of us, rather than worshipping technology as the salvation to the ills of humankind, instead connect deeply with the natural force of the universe—God, as a power that we are intended to manipulate for good. 
 
Picture a world where we understand we are all energy beings, and that we can all manipulate that energy for the better. What does that look like in your mind? Are you healing people, like Jesus? Are you a political insurrectionist, like Jesus? When you picture a world attuned to the power of God, what does The Force cause you to do? What does an unencumbered faith allow you to do?
 
What does a world where we are all as attuned to God as Jesus, able to heal with love, to use the power of God to change the world physically, look like? It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It almost glows with vibrant, living colors. There’s a halo around everyone, isn’t there? 
 
Now, the big question, and the question we must all ask ourselves on a daily, if not hourly basis, is. Do you believe it’s possible, or does this world look like science fiction? Because the way you answer that question affects your ability to be the savior God has created you to be, the savior Jesus, our Jedi Master, clearly shows us, we are intended to be.
 
Meditation: May The Force be with you, and with us all.

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