BY PAUL DUNK
Star Wars The Force Awakens opens this weekend. Tickets ... check.
This weekend will be a unique film experience with my kids. The last time I saw Han, Luke and Leia in action it was 1983. Return of the Jedi was the first film I saw in a theatre. I was 8 years old and empty gift-wrap rolls have been lightsabers ever since. One of the most iconic moments in the original trilogy was when Admiral Motti got in Vader's face about his sad devotion to his ancient religion. It played out like this ...
Throughout Mathew's gospel, there were a number of times when Jesus found his disciples lack of faith disturbing. Every time I place my trust in something smaller than God to give me the peace that only God can give, or prefer myself over my neighbour in thought, word or deed - I demonstrate that my lack of faith is disturbing.
Vader had a way of dealing with failure and sadly, it's consistent with how a lot of Christians think God handles their failure ...
If God dealt with our sin in a "you failed me for the last time" sort of way, the church would not exist because every pulpit and every pew are filled with people who fail to love by God's perfect standards. Even people who don't profess faith in God fail to love one another consistently by their own lesser standards.
God is not a God of second chances. He's a God of one chance and a second Adam ... and that's grace.
Let's think this through. If God kept giving us more chances to be good - and I'm talking about a righteousness-of-Christ-perpetually-obedient-to-the-perfect-law-of-God kind of good - how would that work out for us?
Another chance to be faithful is not what we need.
That would exhaust us, then kill us.
Being united to the One who is perfectly faithful is what we need.
That will transform us.
In the garden, Adam had one chance for total freedom and blessing through total obedience and he totally blew it. He rendered God's covenant of works useless because instead of trusting God he decided to be god, therefore, God found his lack of faith disturbing. Instead of divinely force-choking Adam and ending humanity, God put forward His covenant of grace and promised Christ, the second Adam, to accomplish what the first Adam didn't: faithfulness.
Don't confuse Lord Jesus with Lord Vader ...
What happens when God finds our lack of faith disturbing? If we want to know what God is like, we look at Jesus. How did Jesus respond to his disciples disturbing lack of faith? He continually moved toward them, loved them and remained faithful to them. Then in grace He revealed more of Himself to them in the midst of their doubt, fear, failure and sin.
What did Jesus do when Thomas didn't believe after he was told about the resurrection? "Doubting Thomas" was not met by a divine force-choke. Christ met Thomas' failure with grace and invited Him to trust. Christ meets us in our failure with grace and invites us to trust.
God comes to us in our weakness to give us His strength. In His grace, He gives us the faith we need. This work in our hearts is gradual - but it's eventual because it is the Spirit's work, not ours. He replaces our love for our sin with a love for our Savior by His Spirit. This is sanctification. More and more over, the course of our lives, the grace of God that saved us will sustain, transform and teach us. In turn, we will want what God wants and love what He loves. That is the life of faith - and true freedom.
Yes Christian, we have moments each day where our lack of faith is disturbing, and we will struggle with sin our whole lives - BUT - the gospel boldly announces that though we are sinners who deserve divine choke holds, we are righteous in Christ. We will not suffer divine judgement because we are recipients of divine grace.
We are united to Christ who gives us the faith we need to enjoy Him and glorify Him forever.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.