Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sick Week, Star Wars, and True Humanism

Michael and I were pretty sick a few weeks ago, which basically just means that we watched all 6 of the Star Wars movies in about 72 hours. Yes, we love stories, yes, to the point of nerdyness and yes, we've embraced it. Honestly, it was the first time I watched any of the Star Wars films as an adult. Han Solo was a bit less cute this time around, and Leia's hairstyles were a bit more fascinating. A lot of Yoda's advice made more sense, and Vader's mask was waaaay less scary. 

But. The relationship between Luke and his father really interested me. Having steeped in a number of epic tales in the last year, I thought about how this villain compares with others I've come to know. Vader is definitely a bad dude. He's given in to "the dark side" and embraced evil to the extent of eagerness to destroy his own children. He doesn't look like the boy next door, either. In fact, he doesn't look-- or sound-- human at all. At one point in the film, someone comments, "He is more machine than anything now." 

Without being a Star Wars scholar (I know you weirdos are out there!), I picked up on the fact that Vader was once a Jedi, a "good guy." And yet, as he gave in to evil, he lost not only his status and reputation, but his very humanity. One look at his creepy mentor, the Emporer, and it's obvious that the same is true of him. Evil has distorted and disfigured them both, to the point of their becoming unrecognizable. 

Vader's mask is silly, but his story is not. It's the story of humanity. God created us in His image, to love Him and act like Him. Sin-- our embrace of evil-- distorted and disfigured us to the point that we became no longer recognizable. I used to think to be human is to be "bad," to be "imperfect"-- screwed up, selfish, sinful. (We all know the apology that goes something like this: "Sorry, I'm only human.") But as I've learned more about God and His good plan for creation, I've realized that to be human is to be good, to be "like God"-- kind, in harmony with Him and others, stewarding the world with justice and love. Sin is the foreign agent that has literally warped our insides, just as it warped Vader's. 

The sweet thing about Vader's story is that someone was willing to fight for the sake of His rescue. Luke believed that no matter how far gone Vader was, there was still something in him worth rescuing-- there was still the human inside the machine. Luke's love and humility in the face of all that hate did end up breaking the spell, and Vader was restored in the end. 

Watching Vader's story reminded me of my own. Sin distorted and disfigured me. It dehumanized me. But God was willing to fight for my rescue. In the gospel, God sees past the distortion of sin that has so warped us and goes to battle to bring us back. Because of his rescue in my own life, because He's exposed sin as the foreign agent that actually wreaks havoc on my humanity, I'm learning to listen to Him and accept His leadership. In doing so, I'm being restored. Slowly, layer by layer, He's healing me of the distortion that has warped my very insides. Slowly, Jesus is showing me what it truly means to be human. 

No matter where you are, no matter how "far gone" you feel, you are made in God's image. You are His creation, and He can restore you. 

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