First, let me start by saying that there may be spoiler-like material in this article. I don’t think I’ll ruin anything for you, but if you’re like my wife . . . you won’t want to take the chance!
Second, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. My favorite characters have always been the Storm Troopers and my favorite Star Wars tech has always been the Tie Fighters. I love the original trilogy, I can tolerate 1-3 as necessary evils, and I’ve had mixed feelings about 7 and 8. There were elements and themes I thought were masterful, but there was also a lot of poor story-telling — at least, in my humble opinion.
Still, I’m a die-hard fan. My family and I will watch a saga-wide marathon any time a new movie comes out, and we were some of the first to see Episode IX the day before it came out.
Yet, while I found the climax of the Skywalker saga to be satisfactory, I believe many of the themes in the movie overshadow the overall spectacle. If you plan to enjoy this film with your family, please allow me to share 10 insights one the next two articles that may prove to be valuable conversation starters with your kids.
1. In Episode IX, key characters believe with all of their hearts that the force is real, and they’re not embarrassed to tell others about it.
This dynamic started all the way back in The Force Awakens when Han Solo told Rey and Finn about the Jedi. Rey proclaims, “The Jedi were real,” and Han replied, “I used to wonder about that myself. Thought it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo — a magical power holding together the good and the evil, the dark side and the light.”
And then with all the humility Han Solo can muster he says, “The crazy thing is . . . it’s true — the Force, the Jedi, all of it. It’s all true.”
And that’s how it continues through the franchise. More and more main characters embrace the idea of the Force, and then they start proselytizing others.
It was quite enjoyable watching the mildly awkward interaction between Finn and a new character from The Rise of Skywalker. She asks him if he believes in the Force, and he unashamedly admits that he does despite her incredulity. It was refreshing.
I’m sure you see the spiritual reality waiting to be harvested.
If these people aren’t ashamed to trust in and tell others about a mystical force that is a mix of good and evil and doesn’t personally love any of them . . . why do we find it so difficult telling others about a living God Who created us and loves us and has a purpose for us?
This conversation may help you empower your children to be more verbal and intentional with their unsaved peers.
2. Not only is the Force real, it’s accessible and valuable to everyone who seeks it . . . not only the spiritually elite.
The Jedi and Sith have always been described as religions, and — like in the real world — most of the creatures in the Star Wars universe chose not to believe in the Force. The few elite who did embrace the Force were the only ones able to benefit from it in demonstrable ways.
In fact, it was Anakin’s unique acuity to the Force that persuades Qui-Gon Jinn to believe he is the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy. Only trained Jedi could do what Anakin did.
But the new trilogy is showing us that many, many people have a working knowledge of the Force that puts much of what kid-Anakin did to shame.
Throughout the course of Rise of Skywalker we witness an ever increasing number of people being able to sense and access the Force. Even Rey’s own training far surpasses anything Luke or Anakin had been able to do in the same amount of time.
This is a worldly reflection of the reality that God desires for all men “to be saved, . . . to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4) and “to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Knowing God and growing by His sanctifying power is not something accessible solely by the clergy. Everyone who follows Christ is considered a saint, and all of us have access to the same Holy Spirit as the Apostle Paul.
Your children have the same potential that Peter, James, and John did. They don’t have to become pastors or missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission. They don’t need to be seminarians to understand the Bible.
Yes, it’s true that I believe the more study you get the better, too many Christians have stopped trying to really understand the Bible because they think it’s over their heads. This is not true! Don’t allow your children to fall for this lie.
3. The “community dynamic” of the movie is seen in its emphasis on the fact that everyone has something valuable to contribute and the responsibility to contribute it.
Whether it’s Rey and Ben or Fin and the mostly avoided character of Rose, everyone has a vital role to play. It may involve sacrificing yourself for another, or it may involve deciphering technical readouts of planet-destroying spacecraft. Either way, we all have a role, and it would be wrong to selfishly refuse to play our parts.
I love the fact that even the droids of the Star Wars universe are willing to put themselves in mortal peril to help the ones about whom they care.
The Universal Church has much to learn from this reality. Ephesians 4:15-16 tells us, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Paul frequently compares the believer to an organ in the body or a brick in the building or a soldier in the army. And God expects us to “present [our] bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
Christians must not be spectators. In fact, I believe a true Christian cannot be a mere spectator. We have a holy calling and a divine demand that we fulfill that calling.
This element of the movie may be a valuable tool to talk to your kids about their participation in their professed faith.
4. The value of individual contribution is further realized as key characters learn that they will accomplish more when they combine their forces.
At various points in the narrative we watch main characters realize that maverick, lone-star hero attempts are pathetically inadequate to community efforts. The more people you have on your side, the more powerful the endeavor will be.
American Christians have for too long used their “mavericky” spirit to justify their inaction or their celebrity status.
The biblical reality is that we desperately need each other to grow personally and reach the world for Christ. God created it to work this way. We must not rely solely on pastors and missionaries to reach the world. We need to band together to fulfill the Great Commission.
It’s easy for immature children to love their solitude, but Proverbs 18:1 teaches us that "He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”
Our children should be willing to join with the rest of the family in corporate worship, service opportunities, and daily family life.
5. The capstone of this ideological journey is beautifully worked out at the end of the movie when the Resistance learns that while evil wants them to believe they’re alone, the reality is that there are far more good people than there are evil people.
Though the Biblical reality is that there are far more people serving self than serving God (Matthew 7:13), I was reminded of Elijah after the prophets of Baal incident. He’s all alone in the wasteland wishing God would kill him because poor little him is “the only one left.” And God tells him, “I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
Sure, 7,000 wasn’t as large a number as the worshippers of Baal, but Elijah wasn’t alone. Likely, your child isn’t alone at school either.
The world wants Christians to believe they are in a pathetic minority. And though true believers will always be a minority, it is never pathetic. Twelve Apostles turned the world upside down in the power of God. The millions of professing Christians in the world today should be able to do much more if we all acknowledged the contribution we could make, purposed to do so, joined forces with the Body of Christ, and didn’t believe the world’s lie that we’re a dying, irrelevant religion.
It may be that your children need to be reminded that though the world stands against them, they are infinitely stronger when they stand with Christ.
6. Another über-biblical theme in The Rest of Skywalker is that our own bad choices will be our undoing.
I’ll try not to spoil anything for you, but throughout the course of the movie, many of our beloved heroes die.
Of course, the bad guys die too.
What’s interesting is that people die in one of three ways in this movie:
All three of these wear a spiritual mantle, but the third is the one on which I want to focus. In Numbers 32:23 we learn “be sure your sin will find you out.” This is an important verse for any Parenting Bible because it dispels the delusion that the consequences of our sin are someone else’s fault.
When the movie is over, ask your child how the ultimate bad guy finally died. Was it something a good guy did to him, or was it something he did to himself?
7. Given Disney’s recent emphasis on family, there are a ton of family-oriented lessons in Episode IX. One important theme is that it doesn’t matter who your parents are. You have to choose for yourself what you’re going to do with your life.
In Frozen II, Anna and Elsa learned that their grandfather was a bad dude), but they didn’t have to follow in his icy footsteps (oops, an accidental secondary spoiler!).
Too often we believe that we are destined to become alcoholics or abusers or overweight simply because our parents were . . . since you can’t escape genetics. The problem is that such philosophies ignore that sin is not solely a genetic reality and that by the power of God you don’t have to be evil just because other people are.
It doesn’t matter if you’re related to them by blood or if you’re surrounded by them with no feasible way to escape. You don’t have to be bad just because “everyone else is.”
Later in the film, Finn meets some individuals who — like he — deserted the Stormtrooper ranks. I like that the writers take a moment to set apart a seemingly insignificant group of individuals who refused to do wrong just because everyone else around them was doing it.
May more Christians take such a stand.
8. The Rise of Skywalker has a dynamic focus on the utter importance of parental influence.
For the good or the bad, children and parents will watch the Skywalker saga rise and fall on family influences.
In The Last Jedi we witness Ben Solo being run off by his uncle’s poor choices, and in The Rise of Skywalker two pivotal moments are accomplished by the sacrificial influence of the character’s parents.
This is a lesson for moms and dads.
No matter how bleak your situation may look, God is more powerful than the Force, He is more faithful than your children’s disobedience, and if Darth Vader can be turned from the Dark Side, your children can come to God!
Trust the Lord, but make sure you do your part. Lovingly confront your children, even if it means you may get a lightsaber in the stomach. Don’t stop praying for them. Don’t stop sacrificing for them.
9. Another deeply biblical theme in Episode IX is that the most noble thing you can do is give your life for another.
Beyond all the Resistance fighters who went to war knowing they may likely die, I can think of four key characters who decidedly chose death (or at least the loss of one’s one life force) in order to save another’s life.
Early in the movie, Rey illustrates this willingness by healing a gigantic and dangerous sand snake by giving it some of her own life force.
This theme is first displayed with a sacrifice made on the behalf of a vile monster and comes to fruition by the complete sacrifice of one’s life for a former enemy. How more significant could a Gospel illustration be?
Jesus Christ came to this world, healed the physical and spiritual maladies of His basest creation, and then gave the ultimate sacrifice to purchase the eternal life of all who believe in Him!
Don’t miss the opportunity to have this conversation with your kids.
10. And lastly, even in a movie with relatively little objectionable content and quite a few biblical themes, the world wants to influence our families in destructive ways.
The Force is not God.
Everyone in the movie is doing what’s right in his own eyes . . . and — according to Disney — that’s okay as long as you’re following your heart in a culturally-acceptable way.
In the final celebratory scene, your family is going to be subjected to a girl-on-girl kiss. It will come swiftly without any fanfare and won’t include any pivotal characters, but it will still be there. And it will be there because the world wants to normalize sin.
They cannot be trusted to create a work of art that solely pleases and glorifies God. Their best effort will present a mere shadow of biblical reality with an overall framework of self-worship.
This is why we parents have to redeem such opportunities by deliberately drawing our children’s minds to the Truth inherent in any logical form of entertainment. And this is also why we have to warn our kids that it doesn’t matter how “innocent” or “pure” or “noble” or “kid friendly” the work of art may be . . . there are going to be sinful philosophies that must be understood and refuted.
May The Rise of Skywalker be yet one more brick you help cement in your children’s spiritual maturity.
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