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THEME 2: Spiritual Adoption in the Galaxy of Star Wars - Kylo Ren

"I can see through the cracks in your mask. You’re haunted. You can’t stop seeing what you did to your father."
- Rey

WHOA. I have been haunted by these words since I heard them the first time I watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (Yes, it's been 6 times total now!)

And the reason is because I often feel like Kylo Ren. I feel like I have physical, mental, emotional cracks that if friends, family, or random strangers could find and look through them, they would discover that I'm not a good person. They would find the frustration, anger, anxiety, and sadness that can linger beneath the surface.

For example...I love my home Starbucks. It's like Cheers, actually—everyone there really does know my name, my order, or they know me by sight. And one of the guys who works there alluded to the fact that I always seem cheerful when I come in. And part of that is true, because coming into that environment and being surrounded by a surrogate family does cheer me up. But it also surprised me, because there are many times when I don't feel cheerful. I sometimes feel anxious, mad, lonely. But apparently I can do a good job of hiding behind the "cheerful" mask.

Here's the thing—we are all Kylo Ren. We are all hiding behind different masks. And many of those masks are cracked and broken, regardless of our best attempts to hide. But thankfully God sees us. He knows our mess, He knows our short-comings, He knows our utter failings, and yet He still invites us into His family.

Kylo Ren has been injured, cracked, betrayed, and used. There's no denying he has also done terrible things—but you can see what ALL of this has done to him simply by looking at him. The cracked and repaired mask. The red lightsaber built from a cracked Kyber crystal. And the scar over his eye from his battle with Rey in The Force Awakens. He is literally being torn apart from the inside-out. He has murdered his father, strived to be more powerful than Vader and Palpatine, and is trying to capture and turn Rey. He is trying to secure his own identity in power through violence and anger. But the thing is...he keeps failing!

He can't stop remembering what he did to Han. He is haunted by Vader's helmet, and cannot overcome the fact that Palpatine has ultimate control of the Final Order, something Palpatine reminds him of when he threatens to use the fleet against Kylo Ren himself. And last but not least, he is so blinded by his insecurities that he keeps either missing Rey (in both TLJ and TROS he says he can't see her surroundings) or is ineffective at trying to turn her to the Dark Side.

He is broken. Despite his best attempts to gain control and power, he only succeeds in tearing himself apart more and more. And when we get to the opening of The Rise of Skywaker, we see this playing out in full force as he murders his way through an alien species on Mustafar in order to find the Sith wayfinder. That's the thing about sin—it's like a snowball effect that ends up controlling us, even as it whispers that we are in control, that we have power. And yet when we do decide to take things completely into our own control, we fail. Much like Kylo Ren has failed. And while we have probably never committed gross murder across the galaxy, we have all sinned. We have all been separated from the light, from good...from God.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
[Ephesians 2:1-6 NIV]

As we discussed in my previous post about Kylo Ren and his own "death on a cross", he died as a sinner, with a sinner's death. He did not deserve the mercy that Rey gave him. He did not earn Leia's call to him. Jesus on the other hand, died a sinner's death after living a perfect life as the Son of God. Kylo Ren died the same death that we really all deserve as sinners; Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice that conquered death and saved us.

What I love about Kylo's journey though is that it doesn't end with a death. Though he deserved it, instead he rises again, this time as Ben Solo, thanks to the redemption brought about by Leia, Han, and Rey. And from that point on, he becomes adopted—grafted—back into the light side of the Force. He has been healed; he is now whole. We see this most notably as he throws his cracked lightsaber away into the wreckage of the Death Star, and even as the scar on his face heals from Rey's Force-transfer.

I love this physical representation of what it means to be given grace and to be healed from the inside-out. It is in fact what happens for us, when we allow to Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our life. There is acceptance, there is salvation. We have been spiritually adopted by God so that we are now His daughters and sons. And because of the grace that has been extended to us, we respond with an internal shift from the Holy Spirit that aligns with that spiritual adoption.

Romans 8:15 [ESV] says that "...for you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'"

Kylo felt as though he could never go back to his mother (and he tried to convince Rey of that as well), yet once he is saved, Ben—encouraged by the memory of his father—goes back to fight for everything Leia stood for. Sin makes you believe all the worst things about yourself; to be saved means that you have been adopted into God's family and your response shifts as a result of that. Where sin keeps burning, salvation brings peace of spirit. We see that in Ben Solo. He tells Han, as if he knows that he will ultimately have to die to save Rey, "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it." But we see that he does, as empowered by the Force (almost in the way that we as believers have the Holy Spirit). And he does not fight it. He willingly joins Rey and fights alongside her. He suffers being thrown off a rocky cliff and climbs back up, so that he can continue to fight against evil. He is finally certain of his identity, in a way that he never was as Supreme Leader, and he embraces it.

One could make the argument that Ben Solo simply "went back" to his parents' ways—that there was no real "adoption". But I would argue that, with his internal shift and the saving power of his parents, Rey, and the Force, he was finally able to understand the evil he had fought for in such a way that he could now fight against it. And for us as believers, that is part of what happens when we are spiritually adopted into God's family. We understand the ways of the world and sin that we used to walk in, and are now able to pray and fight against those things.

Next blog, we'll continue this theme and take a look at Rey (because how could we discuss the new trilogy without talking about Rey??), and what her own spiritual adoption journey looks like. If you want to know more about the theme of spiritual adoption and what it means for us, I'd encourage you to check out the links below:

And, if you want a unique way to represent Star Wars, check out our RISE February Shirt/Mug/Tote Bag of the Month...on sale until February 29th!

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