I have a life-sized cardboard cutout of Darth Vader in my office. He’s behind my door if you want to see him. He was given to me by my sister-in-law in my first month of ministry as a pastor, almost 29 years ago. I do like sci-fi movies and books — hence the gift.
Of course, Darth Vader isn’t exactly the type of person that someone should seek to emulate. Essentially the hatchetman of the Evil Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader committed many atrocities including the slaughter of young children who were training to become Jedi Knights. He chose to join the Dark side and oppose all goodness and morality. In several of the Star Wars movies he was the personification of evil — corrupted by selfish ambition. A twisted version of what he had once been.
Don’t worry… I’m not going to delve into the spiritual philosophies of Star Wars. God is certainly not a “FORCE” that has both a good side and a dark side, and I don’t find many significant spiritual truths within the movies or books — I just find them entertaining.
But why keep a 29 year old cardboard cutout of Darth Vader? Even as I type this pondering, all I have to do is glance up and there he is… staring at me… I can almost hear him saying “If you only knew the power of the Dark side…”
So why keep Darth around? Here’s why… he reminds me that no one is too sinful to be redeemed. There is a moment in the
Star Wars saga where Darth Vader stands at a crossroads… he can do the bidding of evil Emperor Palpatine… or… he can do what is morally right. And in that moment… standing at that crossroad… he chose to do what was morally right — and he was redeemed and restored to goodness.
Now, don’t get me wrong here… morality will never lead to redemption, I know… but Darth Vader reminds me that redemption CAN be found by anyone… no matter what choices they have made in their life… simply by repenting of their sin and placing their faith in Jesus. Yes, no one is too far gone to experience a regenerated spirit, and become a new creation in Christ.
There have been times in my ministry life where I NEEDED that reminder. Teenagers in ministry that I wanted to throttle…uh… proverbially, not in reality. They didn’t know Jesus, didn’t want to know Jesus, and they made youth ministry a living hell at times! Times where adults in the church acted more like carnal, self-righteous thorns than as a brother or sister. Times where I would see the destruction that someone had caused to those in their life that left them wounded and bleeding all around them. Times where people have just seemed… well… evil.
And then I look up, and see Darth Vader… and I am reminded that Jesus can change any life. He forgave a thief dying on a cross. A prostitute who had lived a life of promiscuity. A tax-collector who had cheated and betrayed his people. A Pharisee who had tried, convicted and murdered Christians. Jesus can redeem ANYONE! “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24 NLT I just want to shout it out to the world… “If you only knew the power of the blood of Christ!”
Hallelujah! What a Savior!