I was Luke Skywalker for Halloween. I was attired like he was when we first see him in Star Wars (now re-titled “Episode IV: A New Hope”). Needless to say, I was excited to see The Empire Strikes back a few years later. Then my world was shaken. My hero, Luke Skywalker, had his arm chopped off and Darth Vader (the archetypal bad guy) reveals that he is Luke Skywalker’s father.
(the scene of Luke trying to escape Darth Vader who reaches out his hand and says, “Luke…I am your father…,” and Luke screams, “NO!”)
Granted, Leia was more shocked when she learned that she was Luke Skywalker’s sister and thus also the daughter of Darth Vader, whom she would have been raised to oppose (though I will say that the acting of both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher left a lot to be desired for that scene).
There are likely many of us who would say they have not had such a revisionist event in their lives. If you were raised in the church from childhood, coming to know Jesus Christ is not the same life-altering experience as it could have been.
This is not the case with all, for some wandered away in their hearts while still showing up in the building and mouthing the words. Others walked out, cursing, drinking, smoking, or whatever other issue that some church person got all offended about. Some of these indeed did have that life-altering experience, which is why they came back to the family of God.
For those, though, whose encounter with Jesus was life-trajectory-altering this glimpse of a truly messed-up family dynamic (from Star Wars) makes sense. While not the seemingly negative change of being identified with the galaxy’s number 2 most evil and hated person, coming to identify oneself as a child of the creator of everything is definitely a change for many.
For those of a more intellectual bent, we can assent to Jesus being Lord and Savior, and even assent to being a child of God. The emotional switch to go from assent to embrace (mind to heart) can be significantly altering.
For those of a more emotional bent, we can have a heart that loves Jesus, and is grateful that he is Lord and Savior. Our hearts will be formed (whether twisted or beautiful) by our family/life history, and the change to embrace the fullness of being a child of God can be almost impossible as our hearts are stuck in their ways (hearts often being harder to change than minds).
The significance of this is that many, even most, of “the church” body may not have had that experience. This makes it hard to reach people for whom this experience will have to happen for them to come and know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Often, all we can do is pray and be ready to be there when their world shifts.
1) Who do you identify with the most, the intellectual, the emotional, or the trajectory-altered? Why?
2) Why is it important to understand how much of a change—just on an emotional and intellectual level—is being “asked” of those who do not yet know, or need to come back and know, Jesus?
3) How does understanding what was a brand-new way of life, thinking, and belong meant to the early church (i.e., in Acts and Galatians) impact or should impact how we in the church today operate and think?
Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and as children of God the Father, help us to gain and/or never lose the life transformational understanding of what a relationship with you means. Amen.