I don’t often go to the movie theater any more unless a Christian film is playing on the big screen. I made an exception this weekend by donning 3-D glasses for the first time in my life and watching Star Wars The Force Awakens. In many ways it seemed like I was watching the original (minus the effect of feeling fighter jets flying through my stomach. 3D was a neat adventure but I won’t need to do it again). The new movie featured pretty much the same action routines and some plot similarities of the 1977 classic. By the way, this editorial is not a review of Star Wars per se. The main reason for me spending my time to pen this is the phenomena of the movie itself and Christian’s attraction to this kind of film. It grossed $120 million on Friday the 17th, the first film to bring in over a hundred million in one day. This brings to mind the word “mania” and makes this observation I’m making of some relevance.
As a maker of low budget, indie Christian films, I would be totally stoked with a film that brought in $50,000. That would probably be close to the same ratio of cost to revenue for Star Wars. I have to admit it pains me to see people flock to the theaters to see “cotton candy” movies while movies of substance and fiber and eternal consequences never make it to the theaters and the DVD collect dust in a warehouse.
Did I just refer to Star Wars as cotton candy? Yes, I did. Why? I enjoyed the movie as I was sitting in the theater, but upon exiting I immediately began to ponder how there was almost nothing to chew on mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. There was mostly a lot of mindless shooting going on, giving one the impression of watching a kid play a video game. The motivation for the incessant violence is not portrayed- which is maybe not a bad thing. The overriding theme is good vs evil. Perhaps evil is best portrayed as mindless attempts to destroy that which is good. One can’t help but notice the allegorical nature of the theme as the two sides of the force correspond nicely to the spiritual realm, which is divided between light and darkness. One can’t really derive their theology from this movie, but a watcher can’t help but ponder the existence and source of evil upon this planet. That’s a good start to finding God, but only one step on a long journey in discovering that evil and good are not forces like gravity but actually originate with real beings – God and Satan.
To those who worship the medium of film and television, I’d suggest you take a serious look at your lifestyle. We may not build altars in the hills and worship at them, but our modern culture has found a multitude of idols to take the place of the pagan practices. If you’re more excited about the release of Star Wars than you are to share the gospel with someone who has a one way ticket to hell, I’d say you’re in danger of being lukewarm. Nobody would ever want to consider that those who consider themselves a Christian could miss the glory train to Heaven, but Jesus said that if you’re lukewarm, he’ll spew you out of his mouth. I know that contradicts the modern evangelist who says you can purchase your irrevocable fare to eternal bliss by simply reciting a prayer. You won’t find that formula in the Bible. In reality, a born again Christian becomes a passenger on the glory train the minute he or she truly turns his/her life over to Christ. If you think you can hang around the world and catch the last train out of town, I think you’re sadly deluded.
In this current world we have a major chasm between Christian groups who believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still in operation today and those who are convinced those gifts ceased with the death of the apostles. My gut reaction in watching Star Wars is that those who think the Bible is all they need and that God neither speaks to us today nor works miracles among us correspond to the resistance fighters who just rely on their weapons and their own intelligence. And those who receive spiritual power through the Holy Spirit are the Jedi knights of the real world. The only dialogue in the whole movie that stirred my soul came at the end. Hans Solo was questioned about the authenticity of the Jedis and he responded. “It’s all true.” I say the same thing to those who reject God’s involvement in our lives today. “It’s all true, but if you want to try to defeat the devil and win lost souls to the Kingdom on your own power, be my guest. I just pray that you’ll quit labeling as false prophets and teachers those who have found a better way of living and fighting I’d hate you to be compelled to explain to God why you stood against those He called and gifted. Be a resistance fighter against the devil, but do it as a Jedi, with the force of the Holy Spirit giving you the power to overcome.