[forthright] The Dark Side

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 17:43:10 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Final Phase

The Dark Side
by J. Randal Matheny

Science fiction fans welcomed the release last
week of "The Revenge of the Sith," the final movie
in the Star Wars series of films. Third in a
series of six (produced out of order), the film
reveals how Anakin, the good Jedi knight, becomes
the bad guy, Darth Vader.

Though a tale of a galaxy long, long ago, the film
does point up some unlovely qualities of the evil
that exists in the world.

1. The dark side twists good into evil.

The Chancellor's manipulation of Anakin to turn
him to the dark side reminds one of the serpent's
conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden. Lies,
hypocrisy, and deceit were all tools to prevail
against the good and win over others to his side.
The Jedi knights were in it for themselves, the
Chancellor said. God is holding something back,
doesn't want you to have this knowledge, intimated
the serpent (Genesis 3:5). Satan is the father of
lies (John 8:44). He promises what he cannot
deliver, just as the Chancellor promised to save
Anakin's wife, though he later let escape that he
didn't yet have the power.

2. The dark side is concerned with power for self.

To be one's own god has always been the primary
temptation. Undiluted power to serve one's own
desires is the goal. Even before becoming Darth
Vader, Anakin is already thinking of the Empire as
his, already considering that he will be more
powerful than his evil mentor and entertains
overthrowing him. "You will be like God," was the
carrot the serpent held forth to Eve. And Satan
wanted worship from Jesus.

We need not look far for the man of lawlessness
"who opposes and exalts himself against every so-
called god or object of worship, so that he takes
his seat in the temple of god, proclaiming himself
to be God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Herod reveled in
the people's praise, "The voice of a god and not
of a man!" (Acts 12:22). Idolatry is, in essence,
a worship of self, an exaltation (and
exaggeration) of one's own powers.

3. The dark side is chosen.

Anakin takes a long slide into the dark side, but
not against his will. He makes a series of choices
that lead him to it. He allows himself to be
deceived. He believes lies that massage his ego,
appeal to his passions, and serve his interests.

The real-world side of evil presents even a
bleaker picture. We all choose the dark side.
Force of will does not prevent us from falling
into the shadow of evil. We are all Anakins in our
own way. We choose evil and turn away from good.
In the end, it is only one decision that can
reverse our wrong choices – repentance from evil
works to God, turning from idols to serve the Lord
(see 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

4. The dark side is pervasive.

Even the good Jedi knights, especially Yoda,
occasionally warn one another of the possibility
of sliding down the path to the dark side. Anyone
can fall. Even good plans and actions may be
perverted. The struggle against the dark side is
an all-out war, requiring every effort, every
resource, every person. It is a war that the enemy
has brought into our own nation, into our
communities and homes. The dark side is not far
away, but surrounds us and pulls at us from every
side. Those we consider our greatest allies may be
revealed as our greatest enemies.

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, his
servants as if pursuing righteousness (2
Corinthians 11:13-15). False prophets arise among
the shepherds (Acts 20:28-30). The adversary lurks
and prowls, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting
soul; he must be resisted and repulsed (1 Peter
5:8,9; James 4:7). The overconfident is in for a
tumble (1 Corinthians 10:12).

5. The dark side destroys.

Anakin went to the dark side because he wanted to
save his wife. His selfish love ("I can't live
without you") and his choice of that path resulted
in his being responsible for her death. The dark
side is incapable of producing good, of sustaining
life, but eliminates, abolishes, enslaves,
corrupts, pollutes. Only God is good (Luke 18:19),
and every good thing emanates from him (James
1:16,17). Apart from him, we find only perdition,
desolation, and ruin.

6. The dark side doesn't really satisfy.

After the movie, my son Joel wanted to rent the
next (and original) of the series because he left
feeling depressed. We all did. The movie ends with
the evil Darth Vader becoming fully what he was.
Justice is now a byword for the oppression of the
First Empire. Peace means the Emperor has crushed
the opposition. The Senate could applaud the
installation of the Empire, but the senators
cheered themselves into profound grief.

Sin is a waterless cloud (Jude 12). The false
prophet promises liberty and delivers chains (2
Peter 2:19). Carnal desires constantly cry for
more (Ecclesiastes 1:8; 5:10), "greedy to practice
every kind of impurity" (Ephesians 4:19). Man's
eyes for the things of this world are never
satisfied (Proverbs 27:20).

The End

Some say that evil is more interesting than good.
After the previous Star Wars movie, in which the
evil Darth Maul became something of an icon, it
would seem that wrong has more fascinating facets
than good. But this is yet another lie of the dark
side. And this is why, even though the Star Wars
series speaks less of the good side, it brings all
to a happy ending.

But to get to the happy ending, we must overcome
the dark side, not by some mysterious force
pervading all of nature, but by the power of God
focused upon his people for the accomplishment of
his will in Christ.

As Yoda would say, overcome the dark side we will.

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