Light: God's Presence (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

The Star Wars saga is one of science fiction’s most popular narratives. It is ever expansive and crosses multiple media (movies, tv shows, books, comics, games, etc.). This will most likely be the first of many posts to come about Star Wars. Stories from within the Star Wars universe have given me a visual register for deeper and more intricate concepts of Christianity. I have had many insights into my faith through aspects of Star Wars movies or television series.

When it comes to Christianity and the main narratives in Star Wars, I’m struck by the shared language and themes of darkness and light as a device to understand how an unseen world works. In the Star Wars universe, the Force is talked about in terms of the light side and dark side. It is the Jedi who pull from the light and the Sith who pull from the dark to energize their Force abilities. I have found moments when concepts of God’s presence are illuminated through cinematic and narrative uses of light. In this post, I’m going to talk specifically about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and a little bit of The Last Jedi too) and its use of light as a means to understand the presence of God.

In this scene Rey is in the lower hallways of Maz’s castle. She was just in a room in which she found Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber (the one that was initially his father’s, Anakin Skywalker). Upon touching the lightsaber she was thrown into some kind of Force vision. Several scenes flash before her eyes and she struggles to comprehend it all. She stumbles back out of the room, overwhelmed with a sense of fear, much akin to recounted experiences of God and visions of angels from biblical stories. Maz quickly approaches her side and thus the following...

REY- "What was that? I shouldn't have gone in there."
MAZ- "That lightsaber was Luke's. And his father's before him and now, it calls to you!"
(Rey stands, fast. Still overwhelmed, emotional, speechless.)
REY- "I have to get back to Jakku."
MAZ- "Han told me."
(reaches out, holds Rey's hand)
"Dear child. I see your eyes. You already know the truth. Whomever you're waiting for on Jakku, they're never coming back. But... there's someone who still could."
REY- "Luke."
MAZ- "The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead. I am no Jedi, but I know the Force. It moves through and surrounds every living thing. Close your eyes. Feel it. The light. It's always been there. It will guide you. The saber. Take it."

As Maz says, “Close your eyes. Feel it. The light. It’s always been there.” The way in which the light side of the Force is imagined in Star Wars is how I understand God and the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. As the Jedi are Force users, Christians are imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit. I envision the light within as the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit (and our sanctification through the blood of Christ) we are able to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. God is eternal, the beginning, the end, and the ever-present. He has "always been there" and is and will always be.

Light is a key visual theme throughout the Holy Bible. On average across different translations, it shows up roughly 242 times. Light represents many aspects of God, His holiness, glory, and presence. God is light and came down as Jesus to be the light of man for all.

  • "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5-7)
  • "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
  • "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb." (Revelation 21:23)

When we are in the light, we are in the presence of God. The light that is God is something we all have the ability to possess and be a part of. We just need to choose to enter into it and exist within it. When we are within the light of the Lord we know the truth about ourselves. From our identity as His children, redeemed and made holy through His son, we find our strength.

Similarly, when Rey is fighting Kylo Ren in the last act, she is reminded of the Force and looks inward to find that connection and strength. With that strength, she gains the upper hand against Kylo Ren then leaves him wounded and defenseless. This is how we too can gain the upper-hand against sin and drive out darkness. We must become aware of the power of the presence of God within us. However, we also must be cautious to not deceive ourselves. We do not own this power to use and wield out of our own volition. Just as Luke Skywalker says to Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, "To say the Jedi own the light is vanity." The Force and the Holy Spirit are not to be merely used, it is a relationship. We work with the will of God through the Holy Spirit. To know His will (or the ways of the Force) it takes meditation on His Truth. So may we focus on the Light to lead the way as we meditate on His word to discern His will.

"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways." (Psalm 119:15)

Excerpts from this post were pulled from my MFA thesis. To read more about how Star Wars and Jesus influenced my artwork, visit my website HERE.

Thanks for reading and may the Force be with you! ^_^