By Pastor Robert Perez
Most of us have seen or at least heard of Star Wars. It’s an adventure story about a young man who dreams of getting off his desert planet and out of his boring existence as a poor farmer. This is classic American storytelling, which makes sense coming from a quintessential American filmmaker like George Lucas who grew up in California during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The protagonist of the story is Luke Skywalker. Unbeknownst to him, he’s been hidden since childhood at his Uncles farm, far away from people who know his true identity and why he’s so valuable, either to exploit or to destroy. Through a series of events that catapult him to fulfill his destiny, he begins the journey into who he really is, and more importantly, to manifest his potential. Luke has a higher than average connection to, and hence ability to harness, The Force.
The Force in simplified terms is God and Gods universe. In the series, George Lucas brilliantly doesn’t give any cultural labels to The Force. His approach is very eastern in philosophy. The Force is a real thing yet is without form or definition. It is the underlying energy of all things that cannot be fully understood, if at all. However, it can be experienced, and for a select few, bonded with to the extent that it can be utilized in extraordinary ways. Luke, already naturally connected to The Force, learns how to be more connected in order to control it and use it for the purposes of good.
The Force is described as having two intertwined counter parts, one good and one evil. Both are viable and real and there is no hierarchy between them. They coexist in an endless dance for dominance, but they’re ultimately harmonious, like all forces in the universe as dictated by physics.
The question is, if The Force is real, why can’t everyone connect to it? Are they all connected to it but in varying degrees, with some barely anything, whilst others, like Luke, are naturally inclined to it? The movie doesn’t ask the question, hence offering no answers. It does suggest that “it is not for everyone”, in spite of Obi Wan’s explanation that The Force is in fact in everything. So, it’s in everything and ever present, but useable only by a few.
Can we surmise that the same is true of God?
God is real. God is in everything. God is everything. Yet, God is not for everyone? Meaning that only a few, maybe a select few, can truly connect and harness Gods power? We already say this is true by the boundaries placed by each religion’s version of God. People must stay within the prescribed confines of their religion, only then will they be able to connect, because only then will God allow that connection to occur.
Many people throughout history have claimed an extraordinary connection with God far above normal people. The Catholic church formally “elects” men (crazy that it’s only men) and assigns them to a hierarchy of “connectedness to God”, ending with a Pope that is in theory the highest level anyone can achieve. The Pope then becomes the arbiter of all things God related.
When it’s simplified to brief descriptions like that above, I cannot help but think how silly it all sounds. I wholeheartedly believe in Gods existence. No, I know of God’s existence. But it should be asked, do I know because I am a Christian or because, like Luke, I am naturally connected to God? Or perhaps both properties must be present for my connection to be successful?
All over the world and throughout the entirety of Man’s existence on earth, few people have experienced a heightened connection to God. When they did, boundaries were placed to create ownership over it to separate the haves from the have nots. For instance, you are either a Christian or you are not, and if you are not, then you are out of Gods favor, disconnected from His Force.
One of the most successful arguments against the idea of ownership and the cornering of truth as related to God, is the comparison between Buddha and Christ. Both achieved unmatched connectedness to God but by different means and in different times. In spite of their differences, they did have similar experiences of God, like the requirements of moral and ethical behavior, intense and repeated concentration on God, and an understanding of the balance of forces that make up the Universe. The Buddhists gave a broad, perhaps generic explanation, where the Christians used a male persona, in the form of a Father, who lays out specific requirements for inclusion. Regardless, when analyzed side-by-side they cross over in many ways. Begging the question does one reign supreme over the other, or are they interchangeable?
One of the fundamental areas I’ve concentrated my studies on is the imbalance of the effectiveness of Christianity. There isn’t a clear pathway to effectively connect with God. Not one. Although there are many Christian branches who claim to have all the answers. But the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the majority of Christians experience nothing more than cultural happenings by whatever brand they happen to practice.
The bible speaks of supernatural abilities in ways that are as fantastical as something from a fantasy story like Star Wars. Walking on water, bringing the dead back to life, healing the sick, battling evil, protection against all enemies, and so on. When was the last time someone walked on water?
Let me be clear, I am a Christian, but I am not a staunch apologist, that is, someone who’s reasoning exists only to promote what they themselves have concluded to be true. My commitment is unwavering, but my understanding is broadening beyond the confines of simplistic knee-jerk explanations. In many of my writings I explicitly state my intentions to uncover “the reality of God” versus the “cultural explanations of God”.
Does God exist or not may be the wrong question to ask. The proper question may be does God exist, but only for the few? Is the connection up to us, or only to God, who then decides who gets it and who doesn’t?
The “few” are those who are naturally connected to God or those who are committed to morphing themselves from mundane human forms into highly connected beings through intense practice and hard-won understanding until they acquire a connection. Plenty of people claim to be connected to God, myself included. There is something inside us, as well as outside of us, that informs and reinforces this feeling and knowledge. But most people who defend their brand of God do so in defense of their “right” to believe and their “faith” in the existence of God as defined by the brand, not necessarily from an assured “knowledge of God”. They are merely fervent practitioners of rituals particular to a branded religion and nothing more.
Imagine if there were people all over the world claiming to be Jedi. Who are we to say they are not? But in the storyline of Star Wars, the proof of being a Jedi would be their abilities. A phony could easily be discredited.
Should it, or can it be, the same for us? I say firmly, that God knows the phonies from the truly connected.
I passionately believe there are potential “Jedi [sic]” among us, metaphorically speaking. People who are naturally connected to God for inexplicable reasons, meaning it is not manifest because they practice any particular religion. But to be a Jedi requires you take that connection to a new level. Simply having connection doesn’t make you a Jedi.
When someone is genuinely connected to God, it is understandable that they are going to push that belief, and vice versa, if they are not connected to God. It is natural for both individuals to foster their beliefs based on their own experiences. It is equally natural, for those people who believe they are connected to God to concur that it is so because of the religion they practice and not because they are naturally inclined. Certainly, the brand of religion they practice will closely guard it and claim it for themselves.
I wrote in a previous piece, Faith in God, Regardless of How You Practice it (Just Ask Tom Cruise), explaining my belief that Tom Cruise is one of those “Jedi”. He’s naturally connected to God and would be so anyway if he were a Christian or Buddhist or anything else. With that said, it’s natural for him to assume he’s that way because of Scientology. I don’t know to what extent, if any, he has explored other religious options, but it doesn’t really matter. This isn’t about Tom Cruise. He’s just an example.
Religions of all types continually posit that connection to God can be learned. They have in common the idea that people can be made to connect to God if only they would follow their guidelines and practices and commit to the particular ways of their religion. Conversely, there are many people who claim to be connected to God with no affiliations to any religious order. Surfers, for instance, often describe their lifestyle as giving them an unusual sense of connectedness to nature, and to some beyond that, like God. Witches (a rather silly term, I know, but I’m making a point here) and “nature lovers” make the same claims.
Let us distill it down to the essence of the equation. First, does God exist? For our purposes (and my personal belief), yes. Ok, check. If God exits, then does God exist for all humans regardless of where they are on Earth and what their circumstances are? Again, the answer is yes. Check. So, we established that God is universal and in theory for everyone.
That leaves us with some real problems. Do varying religions experience God in different ways? Can any religion properly claim supremacy over the others? In other words, do some miss the mark while others are a bullseye, with the others in between? Is it all or nothing with God, you’re either connected or you are not, with no in between?
I concluded that it is culture that muddies the waters. When we remove all cultural references, just as math and science do to establish the most unbiased foundation possible, we are left with the truest definition of God. Only at that point can we begin to grapple with the question on “how to become a Jedi” and if it’s possible for all or only for a select few.
What is my personal take on it? Well, thus far (I say that truthfully, as I know I battle biases like the rest of us), I am a Christian, meaning that I see the virtues inherent in understanding and practicing the teachings of Jesus as pertains to God. They are surprisingly simple and practical. In other words, they make sense. And no matter how many times I read it, no matter how hard I scrutinize it, I still come to the same conclusions. I also concur that one must take ownership and control of their connectedness to God, as Jesus prescribed. Being passive is the same as complacency. It should be no wonder why a couch potato can’t run a marathon, know what I mean?
What I am concerned about is the question of whether or not everyone can achieve connectedness with God to the same degree. Thus far my answer is maybe. But I don’t yet know the reasons why, at least not definitively. In other words, people may be disconnected with God because they simply cannot connect no matter what they do. Whereas others cannot connect because of missteps in the process, by misguided understandings or unwillingness, in spite of an outward appearance of effort, such as going to church regularly or practicing rituals. Whilst others seem to connect with no effort or instruction required.
I think the mechanisms for connection are inherent in all of us and as natural as breathing air. But you gotta want it!
Finding the truth is at the heart of my ministry. Regardless, it should be everyone’s endeavor to be connected to God by whatever means. If you only knew what is possible, why wouldn’t you want that? We should all want to be Jedi. But can we? The good news is, yes. We can all achieve the highest level of connection to God with the right training and practice, just like for a marathon, it will be easier for some than others. Jesus offers The Way, but to say it is not enough. One must engage in more than lip service.
I don’t really want people to be Jedi, or for that matter, even label themselves as Christians. My endeavor is for all people to be connected to God. Call it what you want. Study from multiple sources, east and west. But I do believe you must include the New Testament in those studies. Its value cannot be overstated and must be experienced for yourself. Give it a read. It’ll change you and unlock The Force in the process. God is waiting for you. Peace and amen.