By Jeff Cook
Nerd out with me, and watch the video above.
I resonated with these observations and found that all four apply well to why we love the Bible and how we should read it.
Rule #1: The setting is the frontier. Star Wars doesn’t happen in the city. It doesn’t happen in parliament, or in the library. It happens out here away from civilization amidst smugglers and bounty hunters. Star Wars is a western and it’s set in the frontier.
So too, the Bible is written in times of hardship–not at a seminary, monastery or a common church building.
Most of the Bible was edited and composed by those in distress after the symbol of their faith–the Temple–had been torn apart (either in 587 BC for the Old Testament or 70 AD for the New). The writers picture both the desolation as well as a whole new world arriving. The setting is the frontier and there is deep anticipation of God’s future.
Rule # 2: The future is old. Star Wars beauty isn’t clean. It isn’t new. It’s dirty, gritty, a second hand world. The beauty of the frontier.
So too, We discover new and progressive truths in the ancient when we read the scriptures. The soul-moving beauties presented by God are often wrapped in disease, politics and blood. In order to love the Bible, I must get my mind covered in muck and my heart aware of God’s voice in the alleyways and truck stops.
The Bible is not clean! it is graphic literature that uses foul imagery to display the grand and abiding grace of God.
Rule 3: The Force is mysterious. We don’t always need an explanation. The greatest power of the Force is it’s sense of magic. That comes from the unknown.
Christians–especially those who do work like I do–consistently fall victim to this trap (and yes “it’s a trap”).
The Author of reality doesn’t explain everything in neat little package (thankfully). One of the primary attributes of the real God is that He so often hides, speaking through donkeys and storms and flaming bushes in seemingly random, brief encounters. The God of the Bible allows tension and longing and hopes finally realized. This is true not only in the text but in the lives of the faithful today.
As such, we lose the real God when we make God’s work and priorities systematic and obvious–the result of mere deduction. The real God is like the wind, said Jesus, blowing where he wishes–sometimes cooling our brows, sometimes igniting small sparks into a wildfire.
Rule 4: Star Wars isn’t cute. Walk into the wrong bar, lose your arm. Don’t pay your debts, end up in carbonite. The frontier is a dangerous place. It’s never cute or silly. It’s not child proofed. It’s freakin’ Star Wars – and Han always shoots first.
What world do you think we live in?!?
The common portrait of life on earth in the Bible is a spiritual war zone, overrun with villains, troubles and a soul-infecting disease unleashed on humanity that will crush everything we care for if God does not act.
Jesus’ charge–perhaps the words he said more than any others– was “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, we live in enemy occupied territory, a revolution is underway, and we are invited to flip the world right side up again through an ancient and decisive force: we are to embrace this force at every turn; we are to lean in to it because this force never fails.
Resurrecting, cruciform love is the power of the living God–the force that binds the galaxy together.
Christ’s love has been unleashed into our world, and in the end everything will be transformed by its power and scope. For the Bible isn’t cute. Its a subversive manifesto in the midst of a dangerous world inviting us to throw off every chain of the present regime for the easy yoke offered by the world’s true heir.
Jeff Cook pastors Atlas Church in Greeley Colorado. He teaches philosophy at UNC and is the author of Everything New: One Philosopher’s Search for a God Worth Believing In. @jeffvcook