by Kelsey Knobloch
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9
I’ve been re-watching the Star Wars movies lately. Every couple evenings or so my wife and I will sit down on the couch with a comfy blanket and boot up the next one in the series. (Ask me about my preferred viewing order sometime!) I grew up watching the “original trilogy,” and the “prequels” came out while I was younger so I got to see them in theatres. By the time the newest ones came out I was old enough to complain about them “not being the same as they used to be.” Star Wars and I have, in a way, grown up together, and watching them is a very comfortable and comforting experience.
The other night we began watching one of the more recent films, Rogue One, again. I’ve seen it quite a few times before, but I was struck by a particularly interesting thought this time: the movie doesn’t have any Jedi. These ‘Force’-wielding protagonists of the series are basically superheroes, and even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie in your life you probably recognize their trademark weapon, a lightsaber. Rogue One is the third-highest grossing Star Wars movie of all time, but it’s missing the heroes! The main characters don’t even have the Force. The only person who even owns a lightsaber (Darth Vader) is on screen for just 3 minutes of the 133 minute film.
But despite all this, as we watched it, I stopped for a moment to talk to my wife about why it’s one of my favorite Star Wars movies. Like you’d expect, it’s because of Jesus.
The idea of Star Wars as an allegory for Christianity isn’t a new one. Much like the Lord of the Rings series, it’s a comparison that’s been done and re-done in many different words by many different people. The idea of the Force as “an energy field…[that] surrounds us and penetrates us [and] binds the galaxy together” (as described by one of the characters) has a very clear parallel to the Holy Spirit. There are plenty of other parts to the comparison, but the Holy Spirit is the one I want to think about now.
In Star Wars, the Force is a power that the Jedi harness. According to another character (Rey), “it’s a power that Jedi have.” This gives a very clear view of what people in their universe think the Force is: a power that only the Jedi have. Only the elites. The special people. The people with the fancy laser swords, the protagonists. Not everyone gets it. How much does that fit with the power of the Holy Spirit? Pretty well, I’d say.
“Oh, I can’t share my faith. I’m not a good speaker.”
“I can’t be a Sunday School teacher. The kids don’t listen to me.”
“I can’t lead that project at church. I’m just a normal person. I’m nobody.”
“I can’t share Bible verses on my Facebook. People will think I’m fake.”
“I can’t tell other people about Jesus. Someone else will do it.”
How many of these excuses have you used? How many times have you told yourself that someone else would do the work of God, someone better qualified? Someone special? It doesn’t have to be someone special. It can be you. It should be you. All those excuses in the quotes above? They’re the same ones used by Moses. Yeah, that Moses. From Exodus (check chapters 3 & 4). And God used him too. You don’t have to be someone special. You already are someone special. You’re part of the Priesthood of All Believers.
Martin Luther writes about the priesthood of all believers in a few of his different texts, and I find it an incredibly powerful and comforting idea. In On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church he writes “we are all equally priests.” But now for a very “Lutheran” sort of question: what does this mean? In short, we don’t need anyone special to connect us to Jesus or give us the power of the Holy Spirit. There doesn’t need to be a priest to give us permission, we don’t need to be ordained or consecrated first, and we certainly don’t need any extra special powers. We are all our own ‘priests.’ We all have a connection to God. We’re all saints as well as sinners. We all have the power to do God’s work.
But those are all the words of people. What does the Bible have to say about this? In 1st Peter we read that “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (2:9). In John chapter 20, Jesus himself gives us the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 22). In Romans 5, Paul writes that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (verse 5, emphasis added). We didn’t just come up with this idea on our own; the ‘priesthood of all believers’ isn’t a convenient concept that we liked so we latched on to. The Bible tells us that we don’t need anything special to talk to God, to receive all the benefits of our salvation, or to do His work.
In Rogue One, the character Chirrut is a sort of monk. He chants his mantra “I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me” over and over again as he walks around blindly. And he does amazing things, things that surprise the other characters, things that seem impossible. He’s not a Jedi. He’s no one special in the world of Star Wars. But the power of the Force allows him to work wonders.
How much can you do with the power of the Holy Spirit? How many wonders can you work with God inside you? You don’t need to wait to find out. He’s already there. God is with you, the Holy Spirit is inside you, and Jesus has redeemed you. You’ve got ‘the Force’ of the Holy Spirit. Now’s the time to use it.
“What do you see?”
“The island. Life. Death and decay, that feeds new life. Warmth. Cold. Peace. Violence.”
“And between it all?”
“Balance and energy. A force.”
“And inside you?”
“Inside me, that same force.”