Star Wars

The Reality of Star Wars

It’s mid-December. The Christmas bells are ringing. Lights are being put up. Store shelves are quickly diminishing. Families are getting together. But people aren’t talking about Santa anymore. It’s not the cookies, toys, or the elves that have stolen the spotlight: it’s Star Wars. The 7th installment of the world-famous saga is just days away from opening night, and it’s already breaking records. Ticket sales are through the roof. Don’t worry, I have a few tickets of my own! For some time now, even I have been embracing the hype. From leaked soundtrack titles, to Hollywood premiere pictures and tweets, I’ve been enjoying the bits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens the world has to offer.

Star Wars 2Star Wars brings me back to my childhood. I can remember the days when my dad introduced us to the original films, or the countless hours my brothers and I spent playing with our character action figures. We were even there opening night for each and every one of the prequel trilogy. I grew up on Star Wars, and it was good. Whenever I’d watch the movies and read those opening words fly across the screen, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away“, it was as if I’d somehow entered into an entirely different world. But what if this universe wasn’t as far as we thought?

 

There’s a real battle between “good” and “evil”.

In the Star Wars universe, there’s a constant battle between good and evil. Force users are turned to the dark side and seek power in order to advance only themselves. On the other side, there are the Jedi that use the force for good and not evil. The Jedi seek to destroy the Sith, and the Sith wish to eliminate all Jedi. While this battle between good and evil happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this battle sounds a little closer to home than we had previously imagined. In the opening pages of the Bible, God created everything and it was good. This creation was good, right up until Adam & Eve took something that was off limits. That’s where Satan entered the scene. This battle didn’t stop there. We see this battle occur in the lives of people, at a cross in Jerusalem, in an empty tomb, and even during the end of days. Satan will stop at nothing to see God’s plans and His people destroyed. The battle is real.

 

Many people miss the opportunity to be connected with God.

Growing up, there were countless times that I had wished I was a Jedi. It didn’t matter if I was merely a padawan, or a Jedi Master, I just wanted the ability to use the force. Unfortunately, for those Jedi-wannabe’s out there, the force is nothing more than science fiction. There’s no all-powerful force in control of the universe. There is however, a personal God, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, who actually wants a relationship with each and every one of us. That’s why He put on flesh, and went to the cross. On the cross, Jesus paid in full the debt we owed. This same God wants a relationship with you and me. He wants to connect with you, He wants to care for you, He wants to be by your side no matter where you’re at in life. In the Star Wars universe, many miss their chance at becoming Jedi. The same is true in our universe. Many people miss the opportunity to be connected with God. It doesn’t cost anything. He just wants a relationship.

 

God’s given everyone a greater purpose & identity.

One of the famous lines I’ve heard replayed countless times from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is when Finn says, “But, I’ve got nothing to fight for.” It seems as if he’s lost his purpose and identity in life. Unfortunately, this is true for a lot of us in this galaxy. We walk around pretending we’re something that we’re not. Or we live a lie. Maybe we live as someone we so desperately want to be, only to fail in doing so. Countless people have questioned their purpose in life. But there’s no greater question than this: Who are you?  (For those of you that have watched the trailers a hundred times, do you get the reference?) Are you living for yourself, or are you living for something/someone greater? Jesus went to the cross to pay your price, He died the death we deserved, and then He was risen from the grave. This is a purpose I can get behind. The cause of Christ is one I don’t mind joining, something I can fight for, because He fought for me.

 

That fictional universe that existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is one I remember traveling to as a kid. Now, years later, I (along with millions more) are looking forward to seeing the 7th installment in just a few days. This world of Star Wars is a world in constant battle. It’s a place where people miss out on opportunity, and continue to seek out their purpose and identity. It’s a world that doesn’t sound so far, far away after all.

 

(Photo credit: Star Wars Battlefront commercial)

Conflict

When Conflict Happens

When was the list time you experienced conflict? In today’s world, it doesn’t take long before we are confronted with tension. Turn on the television and listen to some news headlines. Politicians throw punches with words. Countries send messages with tanks and fighter jets. People enact revenge for the dumbest of reasons. Conflict even occurs in our relationships with those around us. A little argument can threaten to destroy friendships or even families. Conflict is everywhere and it’s out of control. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas have one of these times of tension in their relationship.

In it’s infancy, the church had people for all sorts of backgrounds. There were some Pharisees (group of people who studied the Jewish religious law) who joined the church. This group thought that in order to be saved, you had to first follow the Jewish religious law before following Jesus. They were teaching that you had to “be circumcised” in order to be saved. Because of this false teaching, the council met in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas were there in order to inform the council of what great things were done through the Gentiles (these people didn’t attempt to follow the Jewish religious law). Upon leaving, Paul & Barnabas decided to head back out on another missionary journey, but they were in disagreement whether to take Mark along with them.

Let’s take a look at a few things we can learn from this conflict between these two spiritual giants…

 

Conflict should stay on a personal level.

After the council meeting, Paul and Barnabas decided to head out again to visit the churches that they had started. Barnabas was ready, but he wanted to take Mark along. Paul disagreed. It’s little conflicts like these that comes along in our everyday lives. Maybe you want to get the family together for Thanksgiving, but decide to try a new turkey recipe this year. Or you get some friends together to watch the game and you forget to invite a certain someone. Word spreads. Pretty soon your great aunt is on the phone with your cousin, trying to persuade them of how evil of a person you are. When conflict arises, take Paul & Barnabas’s advice. It should just stay between the parties involved. Paul didn’t go around and hang posters convincing the world of his decision not to include Mark. Barnabas didn’t write epistles about how evil Paul was for leaving out Mark. They just kept it to themselves. We need to do the same.

 

Conflict shouldn’t be taken personally.

Relationships without conflict aren’t relationships at all. God’s creation was good, until Adam & Eve did the one thing they were told not to. We rebelled against God and we now have to pay the price. Because we live in a fallen world, conflict with always exist. There will always be disagreements, fights, and even the silent treatment. You’ll never get along perfectly with anyone. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “If only people were just like me! This world would be a better place.” The truth is it wouldn’t. It would be just as screwed up, just as sinful, just as conflict-ridden as always. We’re all that way. Because of the flesh, we’ll always have the tendency to want to look better in an argument. We want to be right and we want them to be wrong. When conflict does occur, we need to remember what’s more important. Why did God create Adam & Eve? Why do we exist? For relationship! Don’t let a simple disagreement destroy a friendship. Approach conflict like Paul & Barnabas. Don’t take it personally.

 

Conflict should be handled in a way that gives glory to Jesus.

Paul & Barnabas were in the midst of a disagreement. After some quick discussion, it was done. They parted ways. Paul went ahead with Silas, and Barnabas left with Mark. It’s easy to think that this disagreement was a bad thing. But a simple disagreement itself isn’t bad. It’s how we respond to the disagreement that could potentially be bad. Paul & Barnabas kept this disagreement between the two parties involved. They didn’t go out and attempt to convince others of their cause. They kept it between themselves and they didn’t take it personally. Paul & Barnabas knew what was most important: their relationship. Because they handled this conflict in a Godly way, Jesus was glorified. As a result of these two parting ways, new churches were started, others were involved in ministry, and the book of Mark was written! A simple conflict, and many more people came to know Jesus because of it.

 

Every relationship is bound to have conflict. We’ll argue about anything just so we can win. But we need to remember what’s most important. The next time conflict comes along in one of your relationships, respond like Paul & Barnabas. Keep it between the parties involved, don’t take it personally, and always handle it in a way that gives glory to Jesus! How are you handling conflict? Are you glorifying yourself or Jesus?

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Keoni Cabral)

Locked Door

Locked Doors

Recently, I read a passage found in John 20:19-23. It was evening on the first Easter Sunday. The stone had been rolled away, and the angels had told the Mary’s, “He has risen“. Unaware of what had happened at the tomb that morning, the disciples had locked themselves in a room in fear that the Jews would come for the disciples next.

Christ’s disciples just saw what had happened to Jesus. They saw him die. Some of them even helped to prepare Jesus’ body and lay him to rest. They witnessed the stone being rolled to seal up the grave. They saw it all go down. It was over. What the promised Messiah was supposed to bring to Israel, a physical Kingdom on earth, was now lost. Jesus was dead, and the disciples figured they were next.

The doors were locked, but according to the passage, Jesus just showed up. Today, let’s take a look at that locked door passage and learn a couple things about Jesus.

 

Nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

As much as you think it is, your sin isn’t too big, and your past isn’t too dark for Jesus. No matter what you’ve done with your life, you haven’t screwed up enough to the point where Jesus cannot come into your life. The price for our sins has already been paid, and it was paid in full. Jesus died on the cross that was for us. We were the ones with the death sentence. He simply took on death and sin so that we wouldn’t have to. We’re good now. Our slate of wrongdoings has been wiped clean. It’s now ‘white-as-snow’. No matter what you’ve done, or how bad you think you’ve lived your life, stop lying to yourself: nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

 

Jesus meets us where we are.

In the first time Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection, Jesus didn’t go to the door, knock, and wait for them to come to him. He didn’t come to the edge of the house and call out for them. He didn’t come to the edge and wait for them to find him. He came and met them where they were. Jesus does that with us today as well. He meets us where we are. I’m not taking about simply your physical location but everything else too. Not only can Jesus find us at any address, but he can go where no other doctor can go. He can love when nobody else can love. He can counsel where no other counselor can. He can meet you, wherever you are, and whatever your situation may be.

 

Maybe you think that your past is too dark, too sinful for Jesus to come into your life? Maybe you’re in a painful situation or a time in your life that you simply need help. Nothing stands in his way. Jesus can meet us where we are. All we must do is start that relationship with him. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to read the gospel message in full. See what God has done for us, and how you can start that relationship today. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below about how Jesus met you where you were.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: bulletsoul23)