I love to listen to the stories that capture people’s imagination, because they often give insights into how people think and what they believe. Popular stories command an audience because they express things that resonate with how people see the world. So when the latest Star Wars installment came out, I was interested to see what its message might be. If you can handle a minor spoiler, I’d like to share what I learned from Yoda about the Bible.
Yoda appears to Luke Skywalker in his self-imposed island exile. Luke reveals that he’s going to burn down the ancient tree and the sacred texts that it contains. He’s obviously conflicted about such a huge break with tradition and so his former master, Yoda, appears to counsel and reassure him. It’s not hard to see the reference to the tree as a picture of institutional religion and the sacred Jedi texts as references to religious holy books like the Bible.
As Luke confesses his plans to burn the sacred texts, Yoda replies, “Read them, have you? Page-turners they were not.” Although Luke has spent his entire life ‘guarding’ the ancient Jedi texts, he’s sheepish to admit that he hasn’t given much time to actually reading them. And his 900-year-old master, who apparently has read them, admits that they’re pretty boring. Perhaps the most damning indictment comes next when Yoda admits, “Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.” He’s not actually discounting the value of the texts altogether, but he feels that a reasonably sensible 20-something like Rey instinctively knows everything that the books might otherwise teach. Finally, Yoda chastises Luke for always “looking to the horizon” instead of the ‘here and now,’ and urges him to pass on what he’s learned about success and failure (instead of those dusty old books). It’s the modern appeal to forget about the future and live in the moment. And it’s a subtle dig at the tendency for religion to deal with topics like God and eternity and instead focus on practical tips for living.
If none of this sounds familiar to you, you obviously haven’t spoken to a teenager lately. And it’s not just teenagers who share these feelings – this is the world we live in! But these words give insight into how we can reach it.
- Don’t just defend the Bible, read it. People have heard a lot of Christians arguing about their favourite verses but they need to hear more Christians who regularly read the Scriptures. We lose credibility when we’re seen, like Luke, to be guarding the Bible more than reading it.
- Don’t just read the Bible, read it with awe. Too many people have concluded, with Yoda, that the Bible is a bore. It’s not good enough for us to just go through the motions of reading Scripture – we need to read it with awe and express its wonders and delights.
- Be desperate for the wisdom of God’s Word. Christians today are often guilty of assuming that they know what they’re doing. There’s no urgency to read the Bible ourselves because we figure that Sunday School and an almost-weekly sermon has given us all we need to live our lives. A self-sufficient Christian is a contradiction of terms.
- Live your life in light of eternity, not just the moment. It’s easy to live life in the moment, and our world keeps tempting us to do so. But people who “look to the horizon” and live in light of heaven, hell and eternity, have the conviction to make the hard choices and entrust judgment to God instead of taking it up ourselves. Our world needs to see this kind of Christianity.
- Read the Bible to know God not just for how to be a better person. It’s important to be practical. God wants us to apply the Bible to our daily lives. But despite the appeals of our age, the Bible is not mainly about how to live a better life. The Bible is a book about God and we need to read the Bible as a means of knowing Him and deepening our intimacy with Him.
I pray that I’d live a life that would confound Yoda’s commentary on faith and religion. And I pray that the lives of believers at Grace would be an antidote to his criticisms.
Starting February 12, we’ll be running an e100 Bible reading campaign. It’s a 20-week introduction to the 100 most important chapters of the Bible. If you’ve never made a habit of daily Bible reading, you’ll never have a better opportunity. And if you are a regular Bible reader, I’m hoping this will help you grow in your love and devotion for God as He’s revealed in the Scriptures. I’d encourage you to plan now to be a part of it.
In awe of Him,