I saw the new Star Wars film last week—before you freak out, I am not going to write any spoilers here. I am well aware that there may be three or four Star Wars fans who haven’t made it to the theater (it’s worth two and a half hours and $15). It’s not the movie itself that I want to discuss anyway.
One review by a well-respected blogger gave me eleven reasons why the movie wasn’t all that good. Every single plot hole, unanswered question, and continuity issue that reviewer made was absolutely true. But his review was as off target as a deer hunter shooting a cow.
His problem, as I said, wasn’t that he got his facts wrong; his problem was that he walked into the theater demanding a fully-developed grown-up story. Star Wars is not, and ought not to be, a grown-up story. Heck, every episode begins “long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” Does that sound like an adult drama? No. It’s a fairy tale in space, and whether you’re five or fifty you need to be a kid to appreciate it.
The reason most people dislike episodes I through III is because they explained too much. One writer commented in 2012 that the prequels were written like historical documentaries (which he claimed George Lucas is partial to) with “dialogue that’s an insult to wood.” When we go to a movie with established characters, we expect to see them act “in character.” And the newest Star Wars, sans Lucas, directed by fan-boy J. J. Abrams, delivers pretty well.
It’s the same with Christmas.
Kids love Christmas because they see it as it was meant to be seen. Not because of Santa Claus or Christmas trees or stockings over the fireplace, but because of wide-eyed shepherds in the fields, choirs of celebrating angels, and a young mother with her newborn baby. Christmas is about life, renewal, and joy.
The “war on Christmas” prosecuted by some who prefer a godless existence over one thankful for and devoted to God, is frequently answered by grown-up Christians in a very joyless way. As a result, we have the Starbucks “red cup” scandal (if you don’t know, some people were very upset that the coffee hawkers didn’t adorn their traditional Christmas cups with anything, but used plain red this year) and various other serious, grown-up nonsense.
Christmas, and for that matter the Gospel, is for kids. Three of the four gospel writers included Jesus’ words, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, will by no means enter it.” If we approach Christmas as adults, looking for plot holes, fully-developed characters, and complete explanations of the immaculate conception, virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection of Jesus, we will not be fulfilled.
In fact, such a historical documentary would leave no room for faith, miracles, or the unlimited power of God. Imagine demanding of God, “prove you’re the sovereign, all-powerful creator of the universe.” Such a request would only properly be met by God striking the requestor with a fatal lightning bolt, vaporizing him instantly. Of course, that wouldn’t technically answer the question, since the questioner would not survive to know the answer.
But that’s what some people want of God, and of Christmas. They want Christians to be able to scientifically prove that everything science has ever discovered was created by something greater than everything that exists, and they want it done using only those created things. It’s like trying to prove a painter exists by only using the painting.
The Apostle Paul wrote about God scoffers, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” In other words, asking for the truth as if God owed it to you and then questioning what He uses to answer is looking a gift-horse in the mouth.
We don’t have the blessing of having seen Christ, like the lowly shepherds did. But we do have the blessing of living today—where we may actually see the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, and complete the commandment to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
I like Star Wars because I saw it with the eyes of a child. It’s fantasy and pure fun. The Gospel isn’t fantasy; it’s God with us, but it’s only as a child that we can fully appreciate its astonishing story.
(Published in the Houston Home Journal 12/30/15)