God created us in his image, so our lives are just crawling with metaphors that can display how God operates if we just look closely enough. I can’t seem to watch movies anymore without unwittingly seeing a metaphor for how God thinks or works. Moviemakers most likely don’t do these things intentionally, but since we are made in God’s image, parts of him tend to seep out into the things we create as well.
My family has been marathoning the Star Wars movies. We are a Star Wars loving family, and May 4th was Star Wars day, which makes all of May “Star Wars month” for us. We have watched the prequels and just finished Empire Strikes Back. As a kid, I liked Empire Strikes Back because of the big reveal, but also because we got to meet Yoda. When I was little, he was still sort of a comic-relief character for me, much like R2D2 and C3PO. But as an adult, I find myself listening to what he has to say.
The Youtube clip and the script below show a scene where Yoda is teaching Luke. Luke is in the beginning of his Jedi training. He keeps getting distracted and losing his progress. Then he watches as his only ride out of this swampy planet, his X-wing ship, sinks deeper into the swamp. As Yoda speaks to Luke, you can hear Jesus tones in the beginning (in yellow), and later, he speaks to Luke like a mature Christian mentor might speak to a newer believer (in blue).
So much good stuff there. Guys, I love Star Wars.
When Yoda tells Luke, “Always with you what cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?” I thought of the scripture where Jesus is talking to his disciples who are worried about food after LITERALLY just seeing Jesus feeding thousands starting with next to nothing. Jesus hears their concerns and responds “...Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes - can’t you see? You have ears - can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8:17-18) Here Jesus is just baffled at his disciples’ lack of belief. After all, they had just witnessed him fixing this very problem in a huge way. I picture Jesus shaking his head, furrowing his brow, and throwing his hands up like, “Really?!” Concerning our current, shared problem, the pandemic that shall not be named (Yeah, I Voldemorted it, I’m tired of hearing its name) many of us are left wondering, “Will he come through this time?” We know God has the power to do anything, yet we doubt his heart. We get a Luke attitude and think, “We’ll never get out now.” But Jesus is pleading with us, “Don’t you understand yet? You can trust me. I love you, and I fight for you!”
Luke goes on to say, “moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.” We think we have everything figured out, but our minds work so differently than God’s. Yoda stops Luke and replies, “No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.” In Matthew 17, a man comes to Jesus, asking for healing for his demon-possessed son. The man had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, who were unable to heal him. Jesus remarks in a surprisingly harsh way to his disciples, saying, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and then the disciples asked him why they were unable to help the boy themselves. “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:14-20) Things that seem impossible to us, are possible with God. But it takes belief; it takes faith. It takes unlearning our old ways of living, getting rid of the things we worship instead of God, and handing over our plans. Jesus isn’t afraid to get real with his followers. He is coaching them in the same way Yoda coaches Luke. You don’t grow when you perform poorly and your coach says, “Great job,” with no helpful feedback. Jesus is in the business of growing people. And we see here that it may not always sound soft and cushy.
After Luke's failure, Yoda, who is significantly smaller than Luke, uses the force to move the huge ship onto land. ("Judge me by my size, do you?" Mustard seed faith, anyone?) My favorite part of this scene is when Yoda says, “For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is...Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” I like how Yoda calls the force an ally, rather than describing it as something he possesses or owns. If you follow Star Wars at all, you know that the force is not a power that comes from the Jedi themselves. They can be trained to use it, to recognize it, but if the force was taken away somehow, they would essentially be powerless. The Jedi learn to remain humble, appreciating that the power is not their own, but something from somewhere else. They allow it to become a part of them, and this is how they can use its power. They respect it, and keep their own wishes out of it. The Sith (the dark side) delude themselves that the power comes from them, and therefore they use it in a flippant, disrespectful, selfish way. They get twisted and lose perspective and always end up causing their own undoing. While it’s not a perfect metaphor, the force is a lot like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is from God, but it can become a part of us if we follow Jesus and accept him as our Lord and savior. It has the power to move mountains if we only had faith. It is not something we control but something that we can allow to speak to us and guide us. We can’t take credit for any of the fruits from it (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control: Galatians 5:22-23) because it did not come from our own doing.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
As silly as it may feel, I would encourage you to look for metaphors in the art you consume, whether it’s movies, TV, music, books, etc. I see it as a form of worship. Jesus calls us to break down the barriers in our life. We shouldn’t have a Sunday morning self and then a Friday night self. We should invite Jesus into everything we allow into our brains. When you begin to do this, you’ll see metaphors everywhere. I’m serious. And it’s so fun. For me, it is a way to display a childlike faith, to be playful with Jesus, as I believe he is with me. (Matthew 18:1-4) Don’t separate him from the media and entertainment you consume. Bring him into everything, and you will see his face everywhere.
A.j. is a wife and SAHM, an eager follower of Jesus, and a chronically loud-laugher. She loves finding new ways to look at the Bible, in hopes to grow closer to Jesus and to find fresh ways to learn and teach others.
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