“These are your final steps, Rey. Rise, and take them.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Bride of Christ is rising. This will be her finest hour. What do you think of when you hear the word “church?” Do you picture a building with a steeple and bells or do you see the redeemed family of God? The Bible describes the church not as a building that people worship at, but as a “spiritual house” of “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5). The Apostle Peter referred to the church as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” who have become “the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10). As the people of God, we face many trials that refine our character in order to become the truest reflection of our savior Jesus. I’m sure at this point, you must be scratching your head, wondering what in the world a picture from Star Wars has to do with the church. I can’t wait to tell you!
Last December, my husband Gabe and I went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with family. Now, don’t hate me, but I am only a mild Star Wars fan. Many die hard fans love the first trilogy, and some even the second, but I have most enjoyed the recent movies. Part of what’s captured me about them is what I see God showing me about this generation. God speaks to us in a variety of ways, especially through the Bible, but I love how the Holy Spirit often speaks to me through stories, books and movies. As I watched The Rise of Skywalker, I could hardly contain my tears as I received an incredibly beautiful revelation in two parts. For this post, I will discuss what I see for the church.
The Righteous Remnant are those in the church who have said yes to the call of God on their lives and willingly walked through the fires of adversity. They are emerging as pure vessels prepared to rise to their places of influence and take their promised land for the kingdom of God. As I watched Rey in Star Wars, it became blatantly obvious to me that she personifies this Righteous Remnant. Just as Rey is on a quest to find her true identity, so is this Remnant discovering their true identity in Christ.
The movie picks up with Rey training and honing her skills as a Jedi of the Force. She’s learning to hear the voices of the Jedi. Leia teaches and encourages her to hang onto Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, which comes to represent her authority, calling and mission. Rey will grow into this. She takes Luke’s saber, as if to accept this calling. Just like Rey, this Remnant has been trained by God. With Jesus as their teacher, they have practiced their spiritual gifts, accepted their calling and are growing into their authority.
Facing fear of her identity, temptation to turn to the dark side and many dangerous obstacles, Rey overcomes evil with good time and again. She demonstrates Paul’s command in Romans 12:24: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In fact, she even learns to do good to her enemies (Luke 6:27). She faces the vexis snake in the tunnel, and instead of killing it, she uses her life Force energy to heal its wound. This disarms the threat, revealing the way out. This turning point shows Rey is conquering fear, discovering her strength and growing into her authority over the darkness. Can you see the Righteous Remnant in her story? God has been setting his children free from fear and showing them their identity. With the help of Jesus, they are overcoming every obstacle and temptation… even learning to love their enemies!
This Remnant is not perfect though. They are beautifully flawed just like Rey. She struggles over the power of her mistakes and the false identity her enemies (Kylo Ren and Palpatine) tempt her with. Feeling misunderstood, she even sees visions of her true self as evil. Desiring only goodness, she wrestles to overcome evil, even the evil within herself. She is tempted because her identity is broken and the pain is real. In spite of this, she holds onto hope and learns to trust her feelings. The Righteous Remnant knows this struggle well.
In a pivotal moment, she comes face-to-face with Kylo Ren, who finally tells her the sad truth: she’s a Palpatine. To make things worse, he tries to persuade her with lies, tempting her with the potential power of their evil unity. The battle between the two is fierce, ending with her defeating him. Even though she overcomes her adversary, she again displays the same compassion she had for the vexis, healing his fatal wound. In a moment of vulnerability, she communicates her love for him by confessing she wanted to take his his hand: Ben’s hand. Do you see the parallels here to the Remnant? This set apart people of God have faced and battled their past and their enemies. They have grown in compassion and gifts of healing, even loving those who have sought to destroy them.
The complicated emotions Rey experiences from this encounter with Kylo Ren drive her to nearly give up her mission. Retracing her steps back to the Jedi Island on Ahch-To, she is about to toss Luke’s saber into the ocean and give up on the mission, when Luke appears in spirit. He encourages her that despite her blood identity, she has a good heart and spirit. He reminds her of her destiny to face Palpatine. This interaction restores her hope for the mission. Armed with Leia’s saber, Luke’s ship and the foundation of 1,000s of Jedis before her, she heads straight for Palpatine’s throne on Exegol. Just like Rey, the Righteous Remnant has faced so much disappointment and discouragement, they have nearly given up countless times. Every time they thought their mission was over, God came through at the last moment to encourage them and provide them with everything they needed to keep going. It often came through other believers, but it was always just at the right time to spur them on to continue in their calling.
Rey’s final challenge comes when she boldly stands up to the lies and false prophecy of Palpatine himself. He tempts her viciously with lies about her identity, birthright, hatred and anger. He tempts her with the ultimate power of all the Siths becoming hers. The pressure and threats are intense. He even threatens her with the deaths of all her loved ones unless she gives into his demands to kill him. Her response remarkably is, “All you want is for me to hate, but I won’t. Not even you” (Lucasfilm). In an incredible turn of events, Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) rushes to her side to join the battle against Palpatine. Her hope is again restored in a desperate moment. As Ben and Rey fight for their lives, Palpatine begins to drain the life Force out of them, throwing Ben over the edge and leaving Rey exhausted.
Just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rey begins to cry out from her heart: “Be with me” (Lucasfilm). She starts to hear the voices of the great cloud of witnesses, the Jedis who have gone before her, tell her to “rise” and take her final steps (Hebrews 12:1). She musters the strength to rise to her feet in one last stand in her identity as a Jedi, wielding the authority of all the Jedi with her. Great power is released as she owns her identity, which defeats Palpatine. As she gives her life for this mission, Ben comes back to give his life for hers. Along with the rest of the Resistance, they see complete victory over evil! Rey completes her calling and mission, laying the sabers to rest. Walking in her new identity, Rey does not just claim to be a Jedi, but chooses to be known as a Skywalker. Her legacy transfers from one of darkness, to one of light!
Can you see the connections? Just as Rey faced her final challenge with Palpatine, the Remnant is now facing their final challenge. The battle against the enemy is intense. The lies and false prophecy are almost convincing. The Bride is fighting to stand in her identity, refusing to give into hate, anger and retaliation, even against those who fight against her. She is beyond tired. She is utterly exhausted! As she waits through the current trials, she cries out daily to her savior in prayer. She hears the voices of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before her, and now she hears the Holy Spirit say “RISE!”
Righteous Remnant, hear me now: “It’s time to RISE!” Rise up from defeat! Rise up from hopelessness! Rise into your God-given kingdom identity. Take back the ground that God has given to you! The harvest is ripe and the harvest is now! It’s time to overcome the enemy and fulfill your calling and destiny! Take your mountain of influence. God will send help to you when you need it. He will heal you when you feel you can’t go on. This is the hour of victory! The world is waiting to see God’s light shining through you. It’s time to use your voice again! Speak out and speak up!
Now maybe you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. That’s OK! If you are a believer in Jesus, ask the Father what he has to say about you. What is your God-given identity? He will show you. What area of society are you called to influence? What is on your heart? I encourage you to step out and see God move through your life in ways you never imagined!
If you’re not a Christian, then admittedly, you may be a bit lost by what I’m saying. I welcome you here to read and wrestle with these words I’m sharing. Watch for this Righteous Remnant of believers in Jesus to rise into places of influence all around you. You will see them in everything from arts and media to business and politics. Watch for change and embrace it when it comes!
Let’s share and stir one another to action! What is your mission and identity in Jesus? What mountain of influence do you feel called to? Please share in the comments below!
*photo credit: Lucasfilm, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Kirsten Acuna, Insider, 19 December 2019, accessed 29 July 2020, <https://www.insider.com/who-is-rey-star-wars-2019-12>.