Dick Staub is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and speaker whose work focuses on interpreting faith and culture. The director of the Center for Faith and Culture and an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, he is also the radio personality behind the Dick Staub Show, an award-winning, nationally syndicated daily broadcast he hosted for fifteen years. He serves on the board of Image: A Journal of Religion & the Arts and plays a strategic role in the C.S. Lewis Society.
Staub graduated cum laud from Simpson College and Gordon-Conwell Seminary with additional study at Harvard Divinity School and University of Washington. His educational emphasis included Communications, Philosophy, and History. He loves to learn but finds many academics possess "a lot of degrees but no temperature."
You're referring to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. . . . You believe it's this boy? Bring him before us, then.
—Mace Windu, to Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
—Jesus (Luke 19:10)
Upon becoming aware of the Force, and seeing the work of the dark side in the murder of his Uncle and Aunt, Luke Skywalker was immediately eager to seek more knowledge, asking to accompany Obi-Wan on his journey to the planet Alderaan in order to learn the ways of this mystical energy and become a Jedi. As the Chinese proverb promises, when the pupil is ready the teacher will come; Obi-Wan and eventually Yoda both responded to the sincerity of Luke's initiative.
All spiritual traditions acknowledge the seeker's journey toward the spiritual dimension, but a distinguishing and defining characteristic of the Christian faith is the pursuit of the seeker by the Lord of the Force. Yours is not a one-way quest toward becoming a Jedi in Christian terms; the Lord of the Force is, and has always been, seeking you.
The Christmas story relates how God, the Father, runs to meet us. The manger scene heralds Jesus' arrival on earth, but the deeper truth of God physically sending His son for our salvation proclaims that ultimately it is God who actively searches for spiritual seekers. "God so loved the world that He sent his only son into the world," or as The Message puts it, "the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood."
A central theme in many of Jesus' parables is God's search for the lost. An old woman has ten coins, loses one, and sweeps her floor looking for the one lost coin; a shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep and will not give up until he finds the one that is missing. Perhaps the most famous of these stories is the one of the prodigal son, in which a young man has taken his share of his father's estate, and after squandering his wealth in wild living he finally comes to his senses and heads home. Even in this story, the father, who has been watching for him, sees him while he is still far away, inspiring novelist Tobias Wolfe to describe these words as the most beautiful in the English language: "His father, when he saw him coming, ran to meet him."
Why is it important to know that the Lord of the Force is seeking you while you are seeking Him? The genuine seeker needs reassurance that though the dark side exploits diversions to inhibit our search for God, it cannot restrain the Lord of the Force from seeking us out. The light of God's love is too intense to be dimmed by the dark side. The old hymn encourages the seeker: "O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of God's love!" God's pursuit - is relentless, reminiscent of the Clannad song featured in the The Last of the Mohicans, about one who will find us no matter where we go, even if it takes a thousand years.
Knowing that God is seeking the seeker helps us avoid the pride that comes with seeing ourselves as the noble and heroic character in the drama of the spiritual
search. To believe that the primary search is ours, that we seek a God who is apparently indifferent toward us, implies that our love for God is somehow greater or deeper than His love for us.
Furthermore, even though some people sincerely seek God, often the last thing humans desire is to find or be found by God. C. S. Lewis, once an agnostic,
astutely observed that "amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about 'man's search for God.' To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the
mouse's search for the cat!" This is why some people, though found by God, foolishly choose to remain with the dark side. Polls regularly indicate that more than 80 percent of Americans are spiritual seekers, yet is it possible that God has already sought and found many of these seekers, who, after given the chance to know God, choose to retain their autonomy rather than yield to the authority of the Lord of the Force?
Jesus promises that those who seek will find, because he knows God pursues and finds those who search for Him. In our fallenness we are sometimes blind to the God who is already here, but once seekers find God His presence is so obvious that they often wonder how they missed it for so long. The late theologian Catherine M. LaCugna puts it this way: "One finds God because one is already found by God. Anything we would find on our own would not be God."
The late Henri Nouwen came to this realization after years of struggling to know and find God and then described his radical change in outlook once he realized God had been trying to find, know, and love him all along. "The question is not, 'How am I to find God?' but 'How am I to let myself be found by him?' The question is not 'How am I to know God?' but 'How am I to let myself be known by God?' And, finally, the question is not 'How am I to love God?' but 'How am I to let myself be loved by God?'"
Aspiring Jedi, your success in seeking the Lord of the Force requires putting down your guard and allowing the Lord of the Force to find, know, and love you, just as you are.
Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing.
—Yoda (Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones)
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan is searching for an assassin from the planet Kamino, but the location doesn't show up in the comprehensive galaxy maps archived at the Jedi Academy. Madame Jocasta Nu, a Jedi archivist, concludes that the planet doesn't exist. Obi-Wan insists he heard descriptions of this planet long ago from a reliable and trustworthy friend, and he surmises aloud that the archives are incomplete. Yoda mocks Obi-Wan: "Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. . . ."
Finally one of the "younglings," a child and prospective Jedi in training, suggests that Obi-Wan go just south of the Rishi Maze, in the quadrant where he believes the "invisible" planet is located, and then follow the pull of gravity to its center. Following this inductive process allows Obi-Wan to discover the
"missing" planet few believed existed.
When REM's Michael Stipe wrote the lyrics for I've Been High, he surrounded himself with dozens of spiritual books and manuscripts, among them the Bible. The song hauntingly chronicles the possibility of seeking and not finding the elusive truth that is right in front of you, somehow missing what he calls "the
big reveal." Although our pure intellectual knowledge of God is forever shrouded in the cloud of unknowing, significant revelations from scripture and our experience of Him allow devoted seekers to discover what cannot be grasped by the mind alone. Tragically, many people miss the biggest reveal of all: God's revelation of Himself to humans.
Among God's big reveals is the created natural order, which conveys a complexity, magnitude, scope, and intelligence of design that all point toward God as a Force deserving our worship and praise. Also, the Apostle Paul describes the law of God as "written in our hearts," a reference to human conscience as the internal, universally revealed moral law known to all humans and hinting at the existence of a moral force and personality who is the author of that law. Following the gravitational pull of nature and moral law alone are enough to pull the seeker irresistibly to God, but there is more. The Jedi possess archives of Jedi wisdom, and so do aspiring Christians, whose Holy Scriptures, inspired by the Lord of the Force, describe human rebellion and announce God's loving pursuit of His wayward children.
Christians, in the spirit of the Jedi, gain insight and understanding from another reveal, the most stunning of all, reported by the writer of Hebrews: "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word." This Son, of course, is Jesus.
Today, virtually everyone who knows of Jesus describes him as a great moral teacher and prophet. It is true he lived an exemplary life, but he also claimed to die for our sins and promised to defeat death by his resurrection from the dead on the third day. Then his disciples report that just before they saw him ascend into heaven, he explicitly told them he would prepare a place for his followers and one day would return for them. To stop short of accepting Jesus' own claims is to miss the biggest reveal of all. As C. S. Lewis observes, Jesus made some stunning assertions, and we are left to choose only one of three options: "he is either a liar, or he is a lunatic, or he is who he claimed to be-the Lord and only Son of God." If he is the son of God, it changes everything; we can no longer passively admire his teaching but must actively obey him as Lord.
In following Jesus, the aspiring Christian places all her trust in the biggest reveal of all, in Him who claimed to be the truth, the way to the Father, and giver of life abundant and eternal.
I'm standing here in pieces and you're having delusions of grandeur.
—C-3PO, to R2-D2 (Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
The spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin," says the Quaker writer and teacher Parker Palmer. As the Jedi believed in the power of their destiny, Christians know our lives and passions are crafted by an infinitely creative Lord of the Force. By "becoming more at home in our skin" we discover our calling and make the masterpiece we are uniquely equipped to live. The Christian's call to grandeur is a duty, not a delusion.
The Talmud, the body of Jewish law, tells an illustrative story of Akiba, who on his deathbed worried aloud to his rabbi that he was a failure. His rabbi moved closer and asked why; Akiba confessed that he had not lived a life like Moses'. The poor man began to cry, admitting he feared God's judgment. At this, his rabbi leaned into his ear and whispered gently, "God will not judge Akiba for not being Moses. God will judge Akiba for not being Akiba."
Your destiny is written in your onlyness. You are the only person ever to possess your unique blend of natural skills, temperament, experiences, and spiritual sensibilities. Observe your uniqueness and understand it. Be awake and attentive to the message God is sending you through how you are "knit together," and then give it all back to the Lord of the Force. Remember the little boy who brought his loaves and fishes to Jesus, who then used them to feed the five thousand; in the same way, bring your loaves and fishes and offer them for their proper use, to be multiplied for the kingdom's sake.
Theologian Frederick Buechner described your calling this way: "The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work that you need most to do and that the world most needs to have done. The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Like Eric Liddell in the film Chariots of Fire, who felt God's pleasure when he ran fast, your gladness originates in doing what you love to do and are gifted to do well. Celebrate your talents, and then develop and express them in your work.
Because as a Jedi you are a servant in the kingdom of God, you must go beyond simply expressing your talents; you must invest them in a mission that matters. Finding your personal mission starts by identifying the need to which you are repeatedly drawn, the societal problem you most want to see fixed, the human sorrow your gifts might help relieve. Your life's irreducible purpose is found at the intersection of your specific gifts and the needs your life's work will address.
And what of money? The Jedi Christian seeks first the kingdom of the Lord of the Force and things such as food, clothing, and shelter secondarily. The culture tells you to make career choices first and foremost on the basis of money, but there are more significant rewards at stake. We do take seriously the need to provide for our families, because as the Apostle Paul said we are "worse than unbelievers" if we fail to adequately satisfy these earthly needs, but our primary reward is the spiritual satisfaction of meaningful work that contributes to the beauty of creation and furthers the will of God. Our wealth and riches are stored in heaven, not on earth.
Jedi invest their life in work that blends expression of talents, serving a mission that matters and making adequate provision for material needs. The result is your masterpiece, whether your work is sculpture or teaching, film or medicine, architecture or social work, rearing a family or software development. Your call to develop your gifts is where your masterpiece starts, and your ability to shape the culture around you for the glory of God is where it finds its fulfillment. In time you will also come to understand that every Jedi-like Christian has three general responsibilities in the world: to help create culture, to counter the prevailing culture, and to communicate in culture as an ambassador for Jesus.
It is said that the world is a stage; in creating the masterpiece that is your life, the Lord of the Force is the audience who matters most.
©Copyright 2005 Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint. Used by permission.
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