Warning: major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Do not read on unless you’ve watched the movie.
You’ve been warned.
The Star Wars saga has, on countless occasions, been praised for taking mature spiritual concepts and making them accessible. “The Force Awakens,” (TFA) which is taking over the world one theater at a time (it’s the #3 movie of all time globally as of this writing), is no exception.
Aside from the obvious theme that inside us all there is a spiritual side, waiting to be awakened, there are additional spiritual themes present throughout the film if you are willing to look for them.
So, in the name of research, I took it upon myself to partake in multiple viewings of the movie juggernaut, and have come away with 4 spiritual lessons I learned watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I believe we can apply to our everyday lives.
1) “It’s True, all of it” – The Light vs The Dark
One of the most talked about parts of the last trailer to be released in the runup to TFA’s release is the following dialogue from Han Solo:
‘It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.’
Han, the notorious skeptic and stubborn cynic, came to terms with the fact that there’s a spiritual world that defies human reasoning. It was a powerful moment for fans who remember him giving Luke a hard time for believing in something that went beyond man-made tools and philosophy.f
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
Day to day, I’m constantly tempted to approach life from a human perspective. When I’m faced with challenges in my life I often neglect to think think about what God might be trying to teach me. For example, when I’m facing challenges with my finances, I don’t consider that God may be trying to reign in my spending and instill discipline into my life. Rather, I get anxious and hastily try and come up with a plan for the next few weeks to stay afloat. Rarely do I examine my heart and look for the answers to how I arrived at this situation in the first place.
And then there are the “mighty powers in this dark world.” It can sometimes be harder for me to admit out loud that I believe in Satan as well as God, because I’m afraid I will sound silly to those who don’t believe. In Matthew 4:1-11, we learn that Satan’s goal is to use challenging circumstances to create doubt in God and then offer worldly solutions to steal our attention from God.
Thinking spiritually about life requires effort, and a constant examination of the scriptures. The battle between The Light and The Dark is at play every day in front of us. The question is whether or not we’re taking notice.
2) We must deal with guilt (before it tears us apart)
As the movie unfolds, we learn that Kylo Ren (a.k.a. Ben Solo) was sent by Han Solo and Leia Organa to be trained by Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight, one of the first in a new order following the defeat of the Empire at Endor. However, for reasons not yet divulged, he succumbed to the Dark Side and destroyed Luke’s pupils. As Kylo Ren descended further into evil and rose to power in the First Order, the three heroes from the original trilogy all are plagued with guilt, and slowly drifted apart. Husband and wife, brother and sister, best friends, all were separated and isolated due to the guilt that they could not rid themselves of.
Blessed is the person whose lawless acts are forgiven. Their sins have been taken away. 2 Blessed is the person whose sin the Lord never counts against them. That person doesn’t want to cheat anyone. 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body became weak because I groaned all day long.
Psalm 32:1-3 (NIRV)
Guilt is powerful, and has a destructive potential to to create distant between us and the people we care about . The Bible pleads with us in numerous passages to put all our sin out in the open so we can experience forgiveness and close the distance guilt has created. In my marriage, sin is difficult for me to talk about. I know my sin hurts my wife, and I’m afraid to face the impact my sin has on her. However, when I’m willing to be honest, and open and deal with potential hurt feelings, talking through things , we always end up closer in the end.
What would have happened if Han, Leia and Luke had worked through their guilt? The movie would probably be a lot shorter, and Luke would have spent more time, light sabering bad guys. How do you deal with guilt? Are there any relationships in your life that have become distant because of guilt? If so, learn a lesson from this family that it’s better to deal with it than ignore it.
3) We all have an undiscovered destiny
Some fans were somewhat put off by JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan’s decision to go for the “history repeating itself” approach for the plot of TFA, modeling the script almost beat for beat on the original Star Wars film. For the most part though, the consensus has been that it was a smart move.
The first Star Wars movie that came out in 1977, titled Star Wars: A New Hope. What made the story of A New Hope so exciting to people was the idea that we all have a special destiny. Even for Luke Skywalker a e common kid living in a seemingly forgotten part of the universe. As Luke’s adventure unfolded, we all felt like we were there with him, breaking free from the binds of our mundane lives and jumping into hyperspace with our newfound sense of purpose.
Knowing that God has a destiny for each of our lives is what makes a relationship with God so incredible:
I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (GW)
Our relationship with God was designed to be exciting. . Every day when we read the Bible and pray, God wants us to understand what makes makes us unique and how He wants to use us to make a difference in the lives of others.
This realization made me start believing in the power of a relationship with God. I can remember friends showing me scriptures that helped me see God’s destiny for my life unfolding even in the challenges I faced in life. I am now able to see the combination of talents I was born with and the challenges I have experienced as God guiding me toward a destiny that made my new life so much greater than my old life.
Having a sense of destiny has inspired me to obey the Bible so I can maximize my impact on the lives of the people I care about. So while I don’t fly around in an X-Wing (yet), I do get to feel the thrill of knowing that I’m a part of something special, and that every day provides another opportunity to step closer to fulfilling my destiny.
4) Sacrifice is the most powerful expression of love
I won’t lie. When Han Solo was stabbed by Kylo Ren while looking at him dead in the eye, I felt like my heart had been stomped on by a wampa. That was a bold move to kill off one of the most iconic characters in movie history, but it worked. He died while showing compassion and forgiveness towards his son, providing a greater victory for The Light Side than Kylo Ren could ever have anticipated.
Just as Obi-Wan did for Luke in A New Hope, Han Solo provided Rey with a powerful example of sacrifice. He most likely knew that he was going to die, perhaps before he even arrived on the Death Star Starkiller base…but he also knew that he had to. Rey will no doubt view his death as all the motivation she’ll ever need to keep away from the Dark Side and fight for The Light.
While we may not be faced with situations as extreme as this, we are faced daily with the simple choice of whether or not to spend our time and effort on ourselves, or someone else.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13 (NLT)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve settled down on the couch to watch some T.V. for some TV watching when I see my phone ringing: a call from a friend, very likely in need. In these moments, every part of me wants to hit that ignore button, and why wouldn’t I? The couch is so comfy, and I’m tired. Answering that call and helping my friend may not sound as epic as taking a lightsaber through the chest for the good of the galaxy, but that’s how epic begins. .
This is a scripture that we can obey without much explanation. Choose to give up your time, money, energy, or something else for someone you care about, and God says it’s the greatest form of love there is. As Finn said, it’s the right thing to do.