The Gospel Awakens
by Ethan Perkins
If I am known for anything…it’s my incredible good looks. I’m kidding, it’s probably for my love of all things Disney. It is with that in mind that I am eager to introduce a new blog for East North Church. While my love for Disney will remain quite dominant, I also have a strong interest in all things pop culture, specially in the world of film, television and music. Every month in 2018, I will be posting a new blog that looks into what the world’s artistic mediums are showcasing to seek for the message of the gospel of Jesus, whether it be hidden or in plane sight. While this may seem a bit unorthodox, it is not a new idea to see the gospel revealed in the popular arts. Some of you will inevitably disagree with my point of view, but that is ok. My hope is not to win someone over with my high intelligence (or fan theories), but rather my aim is to point to the gospel in ways that we might not otherwise consider. So, if you run across a film, a tv show, or a new album that you might think me interested in, go ahead and send it my way (firstname.lastname@example.org). Now on to The Last Jedi!
When JJ Abrams was handed the reigns to direct Star Wars, it was hopeful that the mistakes of the prequels would not be repeated. For most of us (Star Wars nerds), The Force Awakens was much more of a sampling of the original trilogies greatest hits than breaking new ground. Some were frustrated by this, but the cry for “don’t over think it” was clear from the fans. We loved The Force Awakens, it was the old, old story retold in a new way. The new characters were intelligent, diverse and possessed instant hero quality. Furthermore, my children love it, and at the end of the day, that is exactly what Star Wars is always about, the NEXT generation of fans.
One of the most popular questions coming out of The Force Awakens, is where I’d like to search for the gospel in this blog. For those unfamiliar, The Force Awakens is the movie where we are introduced to the fiercely independent female lead, Rey. The question that fans theorized over and that The Last Jedi addressed was “Who are Rey’s PARENTS?”
The answer to this question was provided in surprisingly satisfying way through a climatic scene between Kylo Ren, a sinister agent of the Dark Side of the Force, and Rey, our Jedi-to-be protagonist, after having collectively just defeated the evil Emperor Snoke and his praetorian guards via light-saber battle.
“They were filthy junk traders,” Kylo Ren told her, speaking of Rey’s parents. “Sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing. You’re nothing, but not to me.”
For some, these words feel like an accusing lie from the Dark Side. For others, like me, it’s a refreshing reminder of the misbelief that you must be SOMEONE (like an accomplished Skywalker) to be someone great in the galaxy. These words meant to accuse can be more than that to those that cling to Jesus. You may even come to see the good news in the reality of Kylo’s words meant to tear down. You see, Jesus, our hero came from nothing as far as the world was concerned. Born to parents that were confused, scared, cast out and thrown in the back of a barn to have a baby in the middle of circumstances they didn’t fully understand. And Jesus came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. In other words, the perceived weak, weary, no bodies are the prime audience for Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
The truth of the gospel is that it is for all, not just the accomplished and successful. Christianity is not just for the strong that need no help, the rich that have everything, the educated that are beyond your way of thinking, or those that believe they live out the Law of God perfectly everyday. The gospel is for the weak and low. It’s for the junk traders, the drunks, the outcast and the broken.
In Kylo’s first moment of possible redemption, we see him reach out to Rey and invite her into a relationship she has never been part of before. While Kylo’s message eventually becomes one that desires to rule with power and destruction, Christ message to us is the opposite. “So, you are a a junk trader, poor, worth nothing to know? You are now invited join me at the throne of grace, not as servants but as heirs to the kingdom of grace and peace.”
In this way, The Force Awakens generates within my heart a longing for a deeper appreciation for the gift of the gospel to an undeserving, want-a-be Jedi like me. I don’t have to have an impressive pedigree or a list of incredible accomplishments by my name. I’ve got the righteousness of Christ. That is good news!
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”