Intro, C3PO, R2D2, Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, Anakin, Padme, Han, Chewy, The Emperor, Yoda, Vader, Luke
It is a common enough experience in the American Church, behind the scenes where most church goers never look: the political maneuvering, the power plays, the lives impacted and even destroyed. It may be that not every church experiences it, but most are not immune. A wise minister once told me. “A lot of people attend church to have somewhere in there life where they have a say. At work their boss tells them what to do, at home their spouse tells them what to do, in church—at least in congregational churches—they get to tell someone what to do.” All it takes is an influential person with a desire to control things and you have a recipe for disaster, at least from a Kingdom of God perspective. Because all you need is someone willing to play dirty in a place where most would never think of doing so, and you have instant power that remains uncontested.
How do you deal with such a situation? Is it ever OK to “fight fire with fire?” Do you need to engage in worldly things like politics and behind-the-scenes-dirty-dealing for the cause of good?
Star Wars is hardly the best place to look for answers, but the fact is that this is exactly the question set-up and dealt with in the Star Wars saga. The Emperor and Vader established power for themselves through evil and dark means, and the Jedis (those very few left after the slaughter of “Revenge of the Sith”) along with the Rebellion are fighting to reestablish goodness in the Galaxy. The problem is that the Emperor’s means (fighting, politics, and trickery) are in themselves wrong and to use those means against him will only further his cause. This is the quandary that Yoda and Ben realize and for which they prepare Luke to face.
The only way to defeat the Emperor’s evil is through self-sacrifice.
Luke turns himself into Vader prepared to die for his friends. He is there to buy them time to set their trap. But the Emperor almost beats him by using his emotions and sense of justice to turn him to the Emperor’s side. If that weren’t enough, the Emperor knows about the Rebellion’s plan because he deals in trickery, and has laid an even better trap for the Rebellion’s forces. It is only Luke’s true self-sacrifice that manages to break through his father’s deceived motivations and awaken him from the delusions under which he was operating. It goes against everything one would expect, but sacrificial love wins the day.
And this counterintuitive truth is the answer to the dilemma Christians, churches, and church leadership face when the world infringes and tries to infiltrate. Don’t fight fire with fire. Don’t out world the world. Self-sacrificial love is always to approach to take. Because in the end, we are not fighting our own battles nor protecting our own interests.
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