By Luke Wilson, That Ancient Faith. Used with permission.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!
I say “minor” because there’s no plot points given away here, I’m just discussing an aspect of a character in the film, but I know some people (like me) don’t like to hear too much of anything before they see a film!
If you have seen the new Rogue One film though, you will be familiar with a guy called Chirrut Imwe. Whenever he is seen on screen, you will find him repeating a short mantra: “I am one with the Force; the Force is with me” whenever he feels threatened or in times of peril and wants protection. Now, Chirrut is not a Jedi (apparently [actual spoilers in this link]), but is a Force-sensitive “warrior monk” according to his Wiki (even though his skills displayed in the film looking very Jedi-like!).
Despite not being in the ‘Jedi club’, this character shows a strong dedication to his faith in The Force and his belief for its protection and power in his life, even in those times where he had good reason to doubt, and was even actively encouraged to do so by his companions! But instead of thinking the Force had failed him, it strengthened his resolve and made him ‘pray’ all the more in faith and trust that everything would be fine and that they’d be safe.
I am one with the Force; the Force is with me
It was this that prompted me to write this blog. I couldn’t help but see the parallels in his ‘faith’ and ‘prayer’ to how our life as Christians ought to be concerning the work of the Spirit in and through us. I found this encouraging and it reminded me of an ancient Christian mantra-like prayer which is still prayed today in certain places and Church branches. This is the Jesus Prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”
This prayer is short and repetitive much like the Star Wars Force prayer, and was also first introduced by a monk (though a hermit monk rather than a warrior monk!). From the history of the Jesus Prayer I once read, it was the quest of a young monk who wanted to fully understand Paul’s encouragement to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:15-18) and he came across a hermit who taught him this method.
The purpose of this Jesus Prayer, much like Chirrut Imwe’s use of the Force prayer, is to constantly bring to mind, and keep it focused on, God at all times, hence “without ceasing” until you embody the words and they take a deep effect on you and your mind and keep you humble before God.
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit Jude 1:20
But is it vain? In this case, ‘vain’ means something that is pointless or futile (as opposed to meaning ‘self centred or narcissistic’, which is the more common understanding these days). If we look a couple of verses earlier, there’s a link with not being like “the hypocrites” who stand in the street making themselves seen when praying (and thus get their reward).
With that in mind, I’d argue that liturgy and set prayers are not vain in the slightest because when you are praying to God, and how can that ever be futile? What makes it futile, and the reason Jesus spoke against it, was because they were praying to idols or if they were Jewish, they were being the hypocrites and overlooking the fact God was walking amongst them! (Jn 5:38). Another reason for prayers becoming vain is when it’s not from the heart. Prayer is about connecting with God, knowing and meaning what you say, and praying without becoming discouraged as Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 18:1.
So I propose an adaptation to the film quote to make it something more real and relevant to our faith:
“I am one with the Spirit, the Spirit is with me”
This, then, isn’t that far off encapsulating the teachings of Jesus and the outlook and mindset we ought to have as Spirit-filled Christians: as children of God (Rom 8:14), to be guided by the Spirit (Gal 5:25) in our new life led by the Spirit in us (Gal 2:20), because ultimately, “anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).
This mantra about The Force has since resonated with fans the world over, and I can see why after watching the film – though I am viewing it through my own lens of faith. But wouldn’t it be great if people would call on the only True “force” in this world instead to be saved, protected and made at one with (Rom 10:13; Ps 121:1-2)?
May we enter this new year at one with the Spirit, never forgetting that the Spirit is with us.
If this piece resonated with you, you will want to read some of smswaby’s writing:
Photo by Jason Brennan