Drake Burrows

The Force, the Spirit, and Romans 8

Unlike the Force in Star Wars, which one “masters” over time through meditation and other self-calming practices, the Spirit of Christ sovereignly confronts us. It is not we who make use of him; it is he who makes use of us. For, apart from God’s Spirit, we are utterly lost in a plethora of destructive patterns which lead, ultimately, to death.

I’ve got a confession: I often view the Holy Spirit as nothing but a useful tool.
This thought dawned on me as my wife and I sat down to watch through the Star Wars Saga (wife’s first time, my second).
The Force
Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars has likely encountered talk of the “Force.” Throughout the Saga, the Force is given several names: It, Life Current, Sight, Life Wind, and Luminous Mist[1]. According to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Force is “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” As with most energy fields, the Force is something which can be controlled – even manipulated. In the final analysis, the Force is simply a metaphysical tool to be used for good or ill.
What does Star Wars have to do with the Holy Spirit?
Well, as I watched Star Wars I realized that I often try to “master” the Holy Spirit like a Jedi tries to “master” the Force. In other words, I treat the Holy Spirit as nothing more than a magical instrument given to me for my own self-fulfillment and self-realization. This is why, in prayer, I can find myself asking God to do things that, in the end, would only serve my own purposes – not His.
Maybe you’ve experienced a similar feeling. Maybe you’ve been tempted to see the Holy Spirit as your Holy Vending Machine. And maybe that’s left you feeling like God never answers your prayers (at least, in the way you think he needs to). Well, if you’re like me, you’re ready to stop treating God’s Spirit like the Force and start treating him like the third Person of the Trinity.
This is where Romans 8 comes in. Claimed by many as “my favorite chapter in the Bible,” I’ve found it strange that many seem to miss Paul’s emphasis on life in the Spirit. And that’s okay. It’s why we read the Bible over and over again. God’s always got something new to show us, which is why I want to spend the rest of our time pondering what Paul has to teach us about God and his Spirit’s saving work in our lives. But first…
The Force of Sin
In the early chapters of Genesis, two damning powers entered the world: sin and death. Genesis 4:7 personifies sin as an animal “crouching at the door.” Likewise, Paul, in Romans 6:16, says that fallen humanity has become an “obedient slave” to sin and is thereby subjected to death. John the Revelator sees this sin-leading-to-death as ending, ultimately, in a “lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (Rev 21:8). Thus, from Genesis to Revelation, sin is seen as a powerful, death-dealing force, and it one which has infected us all (Rom 5:12). This leads us to the first few sentences of Romans 8, wherein all of the bad news of our sin comes to a crashing halt.
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