In our house we watch plenty of Star Wars. Growing up I loved the first three movies, which are confusingly known to my kids as the last three movies. When they ask me if they can watch the second Star Wars movie I am never quite certain whether they mean Attack of the Clones or The Empire Strikes Back.
For me the story was simple. Good versus bad. White versus black. Rebellion versus Empire. Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader is one of the most sinister characters ever created. But maybe he was not so evil after all.
He did provide clear leadership to the inhabitants of the Galactic Empire. The role of each citizen was clearly laid out. You knew exactly what you were getting with the evil Galactic Empire. Pay your taxes, obey the laws, never make the slightest mistake in your life, and everybody is happy.
The empire ran a tight ship. They tolerated very little disobedience or irregularity. For those of us who are in an authority position we have all wished we could do that little “pinch the air” move of Darth Vader and remove any insubordinates.
Darth Vader: Why was this not done to my exact specifications?
Insubordinate: Your specifications did not make any sense and they were merely plans left over from the last Death Star that left the entire station vulnerable to outside attack.
Darth Vader: (Pinching his finger and initiating the force choke hold.) You are a rebellious stiff necked individual and I will not tolerate you. You will change or die.
Sure it might be a bit on the oppressive side, but as long as you follow the rules, things go well. The key to survival is knowing and keeping to the empire’s expectations of you.
Church played a similar role in my life. For many of us who have grown up going to church, we developed ideas about who God is, about what the Bible says about him, and about what church is to be like. A long list of rules, whether spoken or implied, were then developed around these ideas of God. Maybe some of the rules were solid. Many of them were merely traditional, but they all carried the weight of something written in stone.
My Christian life was defined by these rules. Walk this way, dress this way, talk this way, and act this way. The rules were not a result of good intentions, but instead they came from fear disguised in biblical mandates. Fear of not being right. Fear of being contaminated by those who did not agree. Fear of having a relationship with God that would demand my whole person instead of following a few simple rules.
In time I found myself at odds with what my church was telling me to do and what my heart was desiring to do out of love for a friend. The rules were used against me. I was forced to take a step back from the institution and to look at Jesus.
The idea of being a Christian shifted from my rules and expectations, to a relationship with God. Like all other relationships it is based not on what I say or do, but in love. With my blog I hope to explore this relationship side that we have with God. Why did Jesus die for us? Why does God love sinners? How do we respond to his love?
In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith we find out why Anakin became Darth Vader. In the end, he was just like the rest of us, a broken, hurt man looking for true purpose and meaning in his life. He covered his brokeness with anger, violence, really loud breathing noises and a large intimidating black suit. By loving him, his son was eventually able to break through these barriers. The costume was removed and Darth Vader found peace.
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