Our Christian witness is useless without the eschatological hope for the future as secured by the Messiah in his resurrection and ascension.
When people ask why I love Star Wars so much, one easy answer is that it was something I grew up with. I remember pulling all-nighters with my cousin to watch the Original Trilogy. I remember being six watching the premiere of The Phantom Menace. Major life milestones were met with major Star Wars transitions: as I moved out of high school, Ahsoka became a Jedi. As I moved away from my family, Rey was just joining hers.
But there’s more. As I’ve grown older, I’ve appreciated some of the major themes as developed in Star Wars. Lately, I’ve become more and more appreciative of the latest theme: hope. The Disney XD show, Star Wars: Rebels, focuses on a small cell of rebels, building toward the culmination of the Rebel Alliance. The first episode, Spark of Rebellion, features a holographic Obi-Wan Kenobi telling the Jedi, any who survived the Purge, to wait, as a new hope will emerge. Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi survivor, reflects: “Hope. That was the key to all of this. To believe that freedom in the galaxy could be renewed. […] That the dark side of the Force could not snuff out every flicker of the light.”
Rogue One, on a much larger scale, reminds us of the importance of hope. Cassian Andor “hopes” his contact will bring them to meet Saw. Rebellions are built on hope. Rogue One, on Scarif, collects the Death Star plans and is able to send them back to Alliance High Command. When asked what they’ve received, Leia explains that they’ve been given hope. Luke Skywalker becomes the new hope of the Rebellion when he destroys the Death Star. The Alliance would be useless, could not continue, without hope that evil would some day be destroyed.
It may be silly to learn about hope from fiction. Their world isn’t real, but having hope in our world is naive, some may think. But we don’t have a naive, childish hope. We have a hope rooted in the past action of Christ and the future coming of the kingdom. In a time ripe with threats of escalating conflict, literally leveled over Twitter, of health care insecurity, of work place disputes over diversity and inclusion, it is more important than ever for Christians to witness to the here and coming kingdom of God. Yet it seems that we are just as susceptible to be worried about the present as those who don’t know Christ. Why?
The firm bedrock upon which we stand is the risen Christ, ruling at the right hand of God, upholding all things by his power. As he sits on his throne, he mediates for us with the Father. He sent the Spirit down that we may not live as orphans, but as sons of God, who cry “Abba, Father!” This is the good news! We are not powerless, we are not without an advocate, we are not without hope. Yet we live as if we’re powerless.
In Star Wars, we’ve seen Return of the Jedi. We watch Rogue One knowing what will happen: Luke will battle the Emperor and Vader, Vader will find his way back to the light, and the Alliance will destroy the Death Star. Christians: we have the same look into our futures! Jesus, in his revelation to John, shows us exactly what will happen in the future. Christ shows John a vision of him returning, robes dipped in his own blood, to bring an end to the evil will wrecks the world now. He shows John, and us, a vision of the New Jerusalem, coming to the earth, splendid in glory. He shows us a life together with Christ, in which we will see God, who will himself wipe away all of our tears. All pain will be forgotten as the Father and the Lamb light the holy city together.
We Christians do not have a naive hope. We have a hope resting on the sure foundation of the resurrection of Christ; we have a hope resting on the revelation of the future given by the faithful God. Why then do we continue to feel as hopeless as those who don’t know the reigning King? Whatever we have to say about Christ will seem foolish without trusting in his future, secured through his blood and immortal life.