I love Star Wars. You could say I was born into a Star Wars family, as my parents were married in 1977 when the first Star Wars movie premiered. I vividly remember watching Return of the Jedi for the first time as a child, and how, after watching Darth Vader’s sacrificial end, my older sister consoled me as I cried “there was still good in him!” The reason I love Star Wars, and Darth Vader specifically, is because it’s a story about redemption. Stories are everywhere in our culture today, and the ones that seem to grab our attention—or have the most success at the box office—are the ones showing the fight between good and evil and the redemption of characters we’ve grown to love. This doesn’t surprise me, because etched within humanity is our own need for redemption. In truth, the greatest redemption story of all time is the one we read about in the Bible, and experience in our daily life as we follow Jesus.
As a youth worker, I spend much of my time dissecting and analyzing current youth culture. Trust me, this is done with prayer and discernment, and my heart is oftentimes grieved or furious at the messages that are deceiving young people. Our world is broken, and the effects of sin are easily seen through what our culture produces. I have learned, however, that there can be moments when the light of God’s Gospel message breaks through these cultural creations. Though likely unintended, there are stories throughout culture that echo the themes we read about in the Bible. Whether it be Star Wars, the Marvel Universe, or Lord of the Rings, we may find opportunities to talk with others about Gospel-centered truths as they appear in these stories.
One of my favorite elements about programming at Mount Hermon is creating the summer and fall themes, and part of our philosophy is taking a cue from how Jesus communicated with His disciples. By speaking in parables, Jesus used His surroundings to teach His followers the deeper truths of His Kingdom, Himself, and His love for the world. By using these visual aids, He took what was familiar to His disciples and taught them more about who He is. At Mount Hermon, when we prayerfully create our themes, we look at how to communicate a clear, Gospel message through a creative analogy.
For example, we can better understand what it means that God’s love has made us found when we feel like we’re lost and stranded on a jungle island. Additionally, the dark woods may help us come to know in a deeper way that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love. I’ve seen the Gospel communicated to students over the years through pirate adventures, carnivals, steampunk machines, Tolkien-like stories and whimsical dream worlds. By creating a world that students can relate to, we gain the opportunity to share God’s love and truth through messages.
Why do I hope this is relevant to you today? Because along with the rest of the world, teenagers and young adults are facing a lot right now. They may seem glued to their phones or distant, but chances are most of them are feeling anxious, confused and alone. What they need more than anything else is the hope, truth, and light of the Gospel. And there may be ways to start those conversations through watching a movie or asking about their recent favorite TV shows: What was it about this story that resonated with you? How was good and evil depicted? If you were a character in this story, who would you want to be and why? In what ways did the story remind you about the Bible and Jesus?
It’s possible that the next time you sit down to have a family movie night, it may just turn into an opportunity to talk about God’s love and His wild story of redemption.