Today on Geek Devotions special guest Colby Bryant of Geeks Under Grace takes a look at Star Wars and the Church. There’s a lot of great aspects of the different movies from Star Wars. At the same time, there’s a lot of things that people can and do dislike.
Similarly, there’s a lot of great things about the different types of churches in the worlds and a lot of things people don’t like. How do we navigate this? How do we find a proper church? What do we do when we come across people who can’t seem to find a church?
Check out more of Colby Bryant at https://colbybryant.com/
Check out his article on Han Solo at http://www.geeksundergrace.com/movies/han-solo-a-christian-perspective/
Check out the Batman Ninja Bible Study at http://www.geeksundergrace.com/christian-living/bible-studies/bible-study-batman-ninja-2018/
The Question of the Week: What is your favorite Star Wars film and why?
Hi, I’m Colby Bryant. I serve as the music and youth leader for Oak Grove Baptist Church in Hugo, OK. Since the age of 18, I’ve been in bi-vocational ministry, serving the majority of that time as a Southern Baptist pastor. I come to you today representing Geeks Under Grace, where I serve on the board. On a day to day level, I help mostly in publishing our FREE Bible Studies on the website. I’ve reviewed in several sections in the past and attended comic conventions on behalf of the organization for the past few years. I also write on my own personal website, colbybryant.com; if you go there, you’ll find mostly movie reviews, written from a Christian perspective, as well as the occasional devotional as well. Forgive me, as writing online is more of my forte than video work, but when it comes to the topic today, I couldn’t be more excited to give it a go for video.
I love Star Wars. It’s probably my primary fandom, and it has been for most of my life. I’ve got to say that when it was announced a few years ago that the world would be getting more of it on movie screens and on TV for years to come, I was ecstatic! Still, in the years since then, we’ve gotten a movie a year, and some of those haven’t gone over as well as hoped across the fan base. Know that going into this discussion that I’ve been a big fan of all these films, even if they are imperfect. That’s really the power behind what we are going to be talking about in this episode.
You see, growing up, even after the original films were on VHS and long-gone from theaters, they developed a veneration amongst fans. We could speculate as to the reason for why, but there is a quality there that is unique to those three films. There’s a mythical quality to everything (intentional, we know), and really for a war amongst the stars, the focus is pretty tight on particular characters and events. When I was growing up, in 1999, the world received Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and with Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith to follow, we had a new trilogy to watch and enjoy. Except, many didn’t and wouldn’t; if you don’t believe me, say prequel on any message board and see where the discussion goes quickly. They were different; yes, they delved more into politics and a larger scope of events and they were largely shot on green-screen, so they were designed to be different. Still, they are a part of the larger scope of Star Wars.
Now, with the newest films, we are continuing forward beyond the conclusion of what we have known as film fans for decades, and we are seeing classic characters hand off the torch, so to speak, to a new generation of heroes and villains. So far, we’ve gotten Episodes 7 & 8, as well as Rogue One that filled in the gap between the prequel trilogy and the original film. In just a matter of days, we will get Solo that gives us the introductions of several classic characters in what appears to be a fairly self-contained adventure film.
Yet, what I see in an overwhelming way is that people are griping about all of it. The yearly release schedule is no doubt contributing to this, but still, this all really came to notice with The Last Jedi, a film that defied conventions in many ways and caused many to be aggravated about it. You may have loved it or hated it, but I want you to come into this with the understanding there isn’t a single Star Wars film that is perfect, just like there isn’t a church or believer who is perfect either.
You were wondering where I was going with this, and there it is. You see, many Star Wars fans are never going to be pleased with new things. I don’t mean that to tear fans down, but it is true. And the reason why is that they have an impossible standard in their mind of comparisons to the original trilogy. Not for any objective qualities possessed, but for the qualities, they impose on the films and TV shows that are invented by them. Nostalgia elevates properties, and I could talk about that effect for a long time, but I think we know that to be true. Related to that, many believers do the same thing with comparisons with churches and other believers, and in doing so, they dampen the joy that can be found in unity and cohesion with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
So many people neglect the fact that the modern church and the standards of what we look for when finding a church home didn’t exist in Jesus’ day. We get caught up in the facilities, the programs, the number of people, the music, the aesthetics, the demographics, etc. And if you look to the church in Acts, what we see are people living lives amongst others that are changed by the Gospel. There is no worry of pews, paint, and playlists; throughout the New Testament in Revelation and the Pauline epistles, when those churches back then are being written about, none of them look like what we know now. That’s important to keep in mind when we are considering the standards of what we are looking for in a church home and the people that we go to church with. I believe the operating standard is to worship in a church where Christ and His Word is the central focus and serve amongst people who are endeavoring to see that mission through to the end. Sweating the details about all the little stuff gets us nowhere in the end; we must be about endeavoring to get closer to Jesus.
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:10
Churches then and now are imperfect. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at an early example from Acts:
Acts 6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
We see here people complaining about things they don’t like. Sounds like the comments of any post about The Last Jedi. I’m not minimizing their complaints or calling them unjustified, but I am saying that not everyone is going to be pleased by things. The last few Star Wars movies have been selling tickets like crazy, but despite their success, there is still backlash, kind of like we see here.
So, when I watch a Star Wars film, I try to set my plans aside and see where the film leads me. There is always a sense of adventure at the heart of the films, and as such, they transport us in particular ways. I think there’s a lot of enjoyment that comes with going where the film takes us, instead of measuring any of them against our own checklist we drag into the screening. Honestly, I think that was at the root of a lot of the The Last Jedi hate, but I would challenge fans to allow the new filmmakers to grow the series in new directions, and even if we don’t “like” some of those things, we still can enjoy the films. Porgs were great to me, but not everyone thinks so! Seriously, though: what was up with Luke and the milk scene in The Last Jedi? Still, I didn’t let it ruin it all for me.
Likewise in church, there may be a song or activity in a church that isn’t for us, but that doesn’t mean we have to rail against it in defiance. As long as the supreme standards of Scripture aren’t being violated, we can find so much more joy in just recognizing that church is bigger than just me or you and our own particular expectations. I believe that grace grows in patience and the extension of recognizing that not everyone is just like you. Still, Jesus loves us, despite our differences.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:2-4
The Twelve here recognized the imperfection of the situation and used it as an opportunity to correct it. You know why I say that constant comparisons to the original trilogy are unnecessary? Because of the man responsible for them, George Lucas, when given numerous opportunities over the years, has edited them and reworked music and effects all to his liking. The man who envisioned them has tried to fix the “perfection” of the standard of so many, so really, what I see is that even that elevated standard isn’t perfection to its maker.
The core of what I want to relate today is that no church on Earth is perfect, and no Christian in it is either. When we get into the comparison game, everybody loses when the standard is anything other than the perfect standard that is Jesus and His Word. By all means, live your life according to His word, but make sure the standards you impose on yourself and others are rooted in that and nothing else. At its core, George Lucas envisioned Star Wars to use the common understanding of mythic storytelling set amidst lands totally different yet reminiscent of our own to tell a relatable story through the primary usage of one family’s saga. The series has branched out beyond that, and I venture to say it will go even further. Still, with adventure at its core, I think that Star Wars can entertain and provide enjoyment for years to come. Whatever flaws come, I envision myself there opening day, and if it isn’t for me, that galaxy far away is big enough to tell a story that will be. There’s room for stories about bounty hunters and scoundrels That’s why I love Star Wars, and that’s why I love the beautiful image that is the diversity of gifts and people that make up the body of Christ. So many different people in so many different places pressing towards the goal!