The Gospel According to Star Wars, Episode I
The Lure of the Dark Side
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 8, 2005

 

Main Passage: Matthew 4:1-11 (NLT)

You might be a Redneck Jedi if:

10. You ever heard the phrase, “May the force be with y’all.”
9. You have ever had your R-2 unit use its self-defense electroshock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light.
8. You have bantha horns on the front of your land speeder.
7. You can easily describe the taste of an Ewok.
6. You have ever had an X-wing up on blocks in your yard.
5. Wookies are offended by your B.O.
4. Your father has ever said to you, “Shoot, son come on over to the dark side...it’ll be a hoot.”
3. Your Jedi robe is a camouflage color.
2. You have the doors of your X-wing welded shut and you have to get in through the window.
1. In your opinion, that Darth Vader fellow just “ain’t right.”

Hopefully you understood most of those. If you didn’t, then chances are that you’re one of the few who have never seen a Star Wars movie. But even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie… and if you haven’t, I have them all and you can borrow them… but if you’ve never seen one, you’ve at least heard of Star Wars (unless you’ve been a hermit living in the desert like Obi-Wan Kenobi for the past 30 years.)

To date, George Lucas has released five movies of the Star Wars series into theatres with the sixth and final one being released later this month. With these five movies, Star Wars has been the top grossing movie franchise of all time, bringing in a total of over 1.8 billion dollars. In fact, the next closest franchise is a distant second bringing in a little under 1.3 billion dollars over the course of 21 movies. Any guesses what franchise that is? James Bond.

So the success of Star Wars is unprecedented. And when the first movie was released back in 1977, it caught everyone by surprise. Nobody had anticipated the incredible success that would follow. People lined up to see this fantasy space opera. Many people stood in line, got in to see the movie, came out, and got right back in line again. And in so doing, they propelled Star Wars to the number one spot on the list of all time domestic box office movies where it stayed for 20 years before finally being overtaken by Titanic. It cost only 11 million dollars to make, but brought in 775 million worldwide. That’s a pretty good return on the dollar, and it paved the way for two sequels in the early 1980s: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

And then, when the franchise was revived in 1999 with The Phantom Menace people lined up for months… literally… just to get tickets. Some people even flew across continents to get to the earliest possible release at 12:01 a.m. on May 19, 1999. Even my wife Shera stood in line for 2-3 hours to get tickets for that one. And across North America, over 2 million people played hooky from work so they could watch the premiere.

How many of you have ever seen a Star Wars movie?

Star Wars has always seen huge success at the box office, but that’s not the only place. It has also seen incredible success in merchandising. In fact, movie action figures became what they are today because of the original Star Wars. And it’s still the industry leader. And if you want to group all the movies and all the merchandise together, Star Wars has taken in a total of some 12.4 billion dollars.

I have to show you my favourite movie tie-in: Darth Tater (Mr. Potato Head shows his dark side).

Star Wars has become a cultural phenomenon. And the hype is already in high gear for the release of the sixth and final movie of the Star Wars saga. And it’s going to be huge. I know I’ve had May 19th, 2005 circled on my calendar for a year now. Shera’s been checking the Internet every other week to see the latest movie trailers.

I was reading on CNN.com that over a month ago the line-up started in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. 46 days before the actual release date. Funny thing is, the movie’s not actually being released there… it’s being released at another theatre about a mile away. So there may be some disappointed fans there.

I myself have been a Star Wars fan since the first time I saw it… with the possible exception of Jar Jar Binks. I don’t think anybody really gets him. And maybe Yoda. I mean, I like Yoda, but there’s something about him that bugs me it does. You’ve got this guy who’s supposed to be so brilliant and so wise and so full of wisdom and yet he can’t speak a straightforward English sentence. Totally backward his sentences are. It drives me crazy his syntax does. Really annoying the little creep is.

Okay, I have to admit that sometimes the storyline seems a little weak. I’d have to agree with reviewer Peter Travers who wrote about Star Wars:

“The actors are wallpaper, the jokes are juvenile, there’s no romance, and the dialogue lands with the thud of a computer-instruction manual.”
~ Peter Travers, review of The Phantom Menace

But he also went on to say that “it’s useless to criticize the movie’s visual astonishment…” And that’s true. Every Star Wars movie had cutting edge special effects and used state of the art technology. George Lucas is a visionary who succeeded in visually portraying this galaxy far, far away.

But is there more to Star Wars than that? Is there more than just special effects and an okay plot line?

Yes, there is. You see, Lucas intentionally added religious overtones to the movies. For example, in the Phantom Menace we learn that young Anakin Skywalker was immaculately conceived and that his appearance was a fulfillment of ancient prophecies. Sound familiar? I’m not saying that there’s anything theologically profound about Star Wars, and I’m not saying that it’s all that accurate spiritually, either. But I do believe that part of it’s success is because of it’s underlying spiritual themes, and there are some things that we can learn from it.

So this morning as we begin this three-part series on “The Gospel According to Star Wars” we’re going to focus in on “The Lure of the Dark Side”, or the seduction of temptation. Next week, we’ll compare the impersonal Force of Star Wars with the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. And then in two weeks, after the movie’s released, we’ll take a look at “What Would Jesus Say to Darth Vader?”

Okay? So for the rest of our time here this morning we’re going to talk about temptation… the lure of the Dark Side.

 

Four Truths about the Dark Side:

1. You choose to follow the Light or Dark Side.

The choice is yours, and no one can make it for you. You choose whether you’re going to resist the lure of the Dark side and resist temptation and stay true to the Light, or if you’re going to give in to temptation and give yourself over to the Dark Side. And the choice you make will determine your eternal destiny. Read this aloud with me…

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
“The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.”

The right path is not always the easy path. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn warned young Anakin…

“Anakin, training to be a Jedi will not be an easy challenge. And if you succeed, it will be a hard life.”
~ Qui-Gon Jinn, the Phantom Menace

I was watching a reality show on TV a couple of months ago, and one of the girls on the show said that she believes that when you die you either go to Heaven or you go to Hades or you go to Geneva. She said that’s what the Bible says and she believes it.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t know Geneva was that bad. I expect that she meant to say Gehenna, which was a fiery garbage dump outside of Jerusalem that Jesus used to describe what Hell is like. Hades and Gehenna are both references to Hell, so there are really only two options available… two eternal destinations… Heaven and Hell.

Jesus tells us there are two roads. One road is heavily traveled, the other is found by only a few. One is big and wide, the other is just a narrow pathway. One has a huge gate, the other just a small entrance. The first leads to death and destruction in Hell, the other to Heaven and eternal life. Those are the two choices… the only two. It’s either A or B, there is no C. The majority of people will follow the wide path, but the majority is not always right.

Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Some people claim there are many ways to God… other religions, being a good person, astrology, Eastern mysticism. But Jesus taught that you don’t find God through any religion or philosophy. And you don’t find Him by being good enough. There’s only one way to God and that’s through Jesus Christ. Not through a religion, but through a relationship.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Wesleyan or Baptist or Nazarene or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or whatever. It doesn’t even matter really if you’re Protestant or Catholic. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the God of the Bible, the Creator of all things, and have you received Him into your life? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? That’s what really matters. Jesus Himself said…

John 8:12; 10:9 (NLT)
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life… Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.”

Jesus said that He is the Light. He is the Gate. He is the Way. There is no other way to God the Father but Him. Do you want life? Do you want to be reconciled with your Creator? Do you want your eternal destination to be Heaven? Then you must choose the Light… Jesus Christ.

 

2. The Dark Side is Powerful.

Temptation… evil… they’re not to be taken lightly. Don’t play games with them. They’re powerful.

Anakin Skywalker started off as a dreamer. He was going to fight the powers of darkness, stand up for the oppressed, and defend the defenseless. So how did Anakin go from that idealistic (though whiny) kid, to becoming the evil Darth Vader?

Well, it didn’t happen overnight. It happened over time. Through a series of choices he made, he gradually gave himself over to the Dark Side until it had him. In fact, in the original Star Wars movie, Obi-Wan Kenobi described Darth Vader as a pupil of his that had been seduced by the Dark Side.

When I was a kid, I used to watch my grandfather feed squirrels in his backyard. I remember he would take a peanut out to the backyard, sit down in a chair, hold the peanut in the palm of his hand, and just wait. Eventually, a squirrel would stick it’s head out from behind a tree… watch for a few seconds, then duck behind the tree again. Then the squirrel would appear again, run out a few feet, then dash back behind the tree again. Then it’d pop out again and run a little bit further, then back behind the tree… each time coming a little bit closer to that peanut… until it’d be close enough to grab the peanut out of my grandfather’s hand.

Now that story has a happy ending, especially for the squirrel. But Satan uses the same technique with you and with me. He tempts us with something that we want. We don’t see any immediate danger, so we edge our way closer and closer. Until finally he has us right where he wants us… within his grasp.

“Temptation will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

The apostle James described it like this:

James 1:14-15 (NLT)
Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.

It starts small, inoculating you with ever increasing doses until it is all-consuming.

 

3. You know when evil is lurking nearby.

In Star Wars, how do you know when evil is nearby? Well, first of all there’s the foreboding music. Or you can know by simply hearing Darth Vader breathing… there’s something ominous about the way he breaths.

A Jedi can tell when there’s evil nearby because he can sense a “disturbance in the Force.” You hear that phrase used throughout the saga.

A Christian knows when they’re being tempted and when evil’s nearby because of the Holy Spirit working through your conscience. You’re able to discern between good and evil. You know when you’re pleasing God and when you’re not. Hopefully, you can echo the words of Paul…

2 Corinthians 1:12 (NLT)
We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom.

But how often do you and I ignore the warning signs that evil is nearby? How often do we feel tempted, but we ignore that feeling or even enjoy it? Temptation is not evil in and of itself, but it signals that we’re headed for evil. And with God on our side, temptation can not overcome us… unless we allow it to. It should be a warning to us.

Do you know how far away you can hear a lion roar?

PARTICIPATION

8 km (5 miles). You know when he’s near.
(From The Pet Show with Warren Eikstein)

I’ve asked you this before, but I think the answer is profound and I’ll show you why…

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.

The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion… you can hear him up to 5 miles away. He can’t blindside you if you’re paying attention at all. So when you hear him coming, don’t hesitate… don’t stick around to see what happens… don’t see how close you can cut it… Move!

You know what things tempt you. You probably have them in mind right now. You also know what situations you get yourself in that make you more vulnerable. You know the places you go, the things you do, the people you’re with. You know how tired you get and how that lowers your defenses. You know when temptation’s near. So get out of there. It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry: not a good idea.

 

4. The Dark Side will lose in the end.

In the Bible, Jesus is called the light… the true Light… the Light of the world. He is the source of all that is good, true and holy. And when that light meets up with darkness, it always wins out. When the sun rises the night disappears. When you turn on a light in a dark room, the darkness disappears. And it’s like that with Christ.

John 1:4 (NLT)
Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

When you were watching the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, was there ever any doubt that good would ultimately triumph over evil? That was true in the Star Wars realm, and it’s true in this realm too, and in the spiritual realm. Satan seems to have a lot going his way right now, but it’s just for right now. His defeat is assured.

We tend to think that Jesus and Satan are opposites but equals. We tend to think that it’s a fair fight. But it’s not. Satan is just a created being who rebelled against his Creator. Jesus is the Creator. He’s the all-powerful God. He has no equal. Satan may be the lord of the world for this present age, but Jesus is the Lord of All. And when He comes again, Satan and all the powers of darkness will be disposed of.

Today is V-E Day… Victory in Europe Day… the day when World War II ended in that part of the world. The War itself wasn’t completely over… there were still plenty of battles to fight in the Pacific… but after V-E Day, everyone knew it was just a matter of time. The war was not over, but victory was assured.

Victory over sin was won when Jesus died on the cross. We still struggle, we still battle, but the final victory is assured. It’s just a matter of time.

That is the hope for me and every other believer who has placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. In the end, we win. Good will ultimately triumph. So no matter what junk we have to endure for this present age, there is a time coming when all of that will be swept away and we will be left standing in the presence of Almighty God.

 

But in the meantime, you and I struggle against the powers of darkness. How do we resist? How do we overcome?

 

How Do We Resist the Dark Side?

Well, we don’t on our own. We can only overcome because of the power of God at work within us.

A. Depend on the Power of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)
It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.

Without God, you can’t win. With Him, you can’t lose.

 

B. Grow firm in your faith.

What did Luke Skywalker do? He entered into an intensive time of training under Yoda. Without the disciplines and skills he learned from Yoda, he could have never survived a confrontation with Darth Vader.

You and I need to consistently grow in our relationship with Jesus. We need to grow deeper in our faith. We need to read the word of God daily and pray constantly. And if I can put it bluntly, if you’re not committed to growing, you’re not going to last.

Listen to the emphasis that the apostle Paul puts on spiritual discipline and growing in your faith…

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be… I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NLT)
Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 

C. Develop Solid Christian Friendships.

Not everyone you know needs to be or even should be a Christian, but you’ve got to know some. Luke, of course, had who? Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan, C3P0, R-2… and in the end, they all helped him overcome the Dark Side.

Listen to what the Bible says about having friendships with other believers…

Galatians 6:1-2 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path… Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

 

D. Maintain Your Guard Against the Dark Side.

Matthew 26:41 (NLT)
“Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.”

Satan’s no dummy. He knows when you’re vulnerable. He knows just what areas to hit. So don’t let down your guard and don’t give him a foothold. Paul warns…

1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.

Now, here’s the good news. Temptations will come, but they will never be so strong that you’re incapable of resisting. Check this out…

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

James 4:7 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

Maintain your guard against temptation, resist it, and look for the way out that God promises He will provide. Because it will come. C.S. Lewis wrote…

“A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.”
~ C. S. Lewis

 

Whatever that temptation is that seems to have such a grasp on you, it doesn’t need to be that way. Jesus came to free you from bondage to sin. He delights in doing that. You can trust Him on that. Pray and ask for his help. And then resist. All your problems may not be solved overnight, but they will be solved, as long as you don’t give up.

And when you do mess up and allow yourself to give in to temptation, don’t let that be the end. Pick yourself up, wipe the dust off, and continue to walk with the Lord.

Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)
“…for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”


 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2005 SunriseOnline.ca