Read Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:27-30, 32-36
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12, NLT)
I have always been a huge Star Wars fan. The latest three films center around a character by the name of Anakin Skywalker and takes place before the original films. Anakin is filled with great hope and promise; however, he is also filled with fear and regret. He was taken away from his mother and taught to be a Jedi Knight. His mother, who once was a slave, finally gets her freedom and marries a man. But, this isn’t a fairytale for her. The man, though he loved her, failed at protecting her and she eventually gets kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by a group of bandits.
Anakin cannot forgive the man–nor can he forgive himself. After all, he was a Jedi Knight, yet he could not protect his own mother. Though his lover (Padame), friends and mentors alike try to steer Anakin past his fears and regrets, they cannot do it. They have too great a hold of him and Anakin slips further and further into the dark side.
In one of the final scenes of the third installment, Anakin finds himself in a volcano fighting against Obi Wan Kenobi who used to be his greatest friend. He believes that Obi Wan has betrayed him, and he believes that Padame has betrayed him and, out of anger, he nearly destroyed Padame and is on the move to kill Obi Wan.
In the fight, Obi Wan gains the better ground and warns Anakin not to advance toward him. But Anakin is too angry to listen and leaps forward to attack. In self-defense, Obi Wan slices off Anakin’s legs and left arm and Anakin falls to ground, his leg stumps in touching the lava. While catching on fire and burning alive, Anakin can be seen reaching toward the man who used to be his best friend and teacher. “I hate you,” Anakin screams. “I hate you!!!” Just as the fire is consuming his body, so too the rage fully consumes Anakin. The fight may be over, the scars of the battle will forever haunt Obi Wan’s memory.
While the film focuses on Anakin’s fear as being the root cause of his problem, I see forgiveness being a key issue as well. Anakin can never find it in himself to forgive those who have done him wrong. He can never find it in himself to forgive himself either! As a result, hatred builds up in him and he becomes Darth Vader, who is a walking embodiment of Hell.
In the Scripture today, Jesus warns his disciples and followers that forgiveness is absolutely vital. If we are not willing to forgive others, including ourselves, how can we ever expect to receive God’s forgiveness? To want forgiveness and refuse it to others is hypocritical to say the least. But beyond that point, those who don’t forgive often find themselves not being able to forgive themselves…and no matter how much God forgives someone, it is in vain if they will not receive it.
Thus, the challenge for all is to be humble and to fight the battle that rages within us. We need to recognize that none of us are perfect and that each and every one of us is in need of forgiveness. Rather than letting hate, bitterness and rage consume us, like it consumed Anakin Skywalker, we need to turn from our hate and stubbornness and learn to forgive. If we can do that, then perhaps we’d have less to fear. Learn to forgive and learn to be forgiven. This is what God is calling you to do.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Fear is the path to the Dark Side; Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
Lord, soften my heart and teach me to forgive others, as well as myself. Amen.