“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
Early in George Lucas’s epic work, we see a hologram of Princess Leia begging the old hermit Ben Kenobi for help. When George Lucas wrote the prequels several years later, Qui-Gon Jin was convinced that Anakin, the little boy who would eventually become the baddest villain in the galaxy, was the hope that would bring balance to the Force. In the latest installment of the new Star Wars trilogy, Rey finds Luke and once again puts the hope of the future of the Resistance in his hands. It is a common theme with a common conclusion: in the end, these single fallible human beings are not the hope of the universe. The Jedi, the Rebels, the Resistance fighters must ultimately work together with the skills and knowledge that they possess to defeat the evil that plagues them.
It’s a common theme in real life too, isn’t it? When life is going poorly, when everything seems to have gone wrong for us, when we see the world around us crumbling, we turn to other human beings for hope. In my adulthood, I truly saw it for the first time during the 2008 presidential election. As a 20-something who watched the Twin Towers fall four months before my wedding, and over the years, friends and family serve overseas in two wars, I was tired of war. I was slowly watching houses in my neighborhood go empty and then into foreclosure. I was pregnant with our first child and I worried about the future that the world would hold for our unborn daughter.
And while I had nothing against either main presidential candidate, while I saw both men as respectable Americans who would do their best for their country, while I didn’t agree with everything either man stood for, I voted for hope. And hope, at least in the form of a campaign slogan and promise, won.
Four years later, with a country still at war and a house that couldn’t sell after two years on the market, I chose to buck the system and vote my conscience. I chose third party over party politics, because while I believe in my right to vote, I also believe that hope cannot be found in a single person or group of people.
Because hope doesn’t come from people. Hope comes from God.
And true hope on earth comes from people with their feet on the ground and their hands dirty helping each other.
My frustrations as a Christian, a mother, a teacher, and an American citizen have grown over the last two years, as I have watched my fellow citizens participate in increasingly heated debates over the best directions for our country. Often my friends and family on both “sides” argue that one person or another will be the answer to our social problems. Or conversely, that the election of one individual over another will result in the end of life as we know it. Ultimately, they maintain the misguided belief that if we put our hope in a person or a party, everything will be better.
But I believe that this is a lie that will destroy us. Instead, we have to put our hope into something bigger than a single person. I believe God is all-powerful. I believe that He is ever-present in His creation. But I also believe that He has created us to serve each other and to change what is in our power to change.
Generations of Star Wars fans have seen this happen over and over again. The Jedi believe in the Force, but victory against the enemy doesn’t happen without multiple people working together toward a common goal.
Putting our hope in fallible human beings won’t make things better. Human beings will only disappoint us. Raising a small number of powerful people to a position of prominence and believing that they hold the power to make our lives better ignores the very nature of humanity. Worse, when people of faith do it, it denies the power of God and passes the very purpose of our creation onto a select few who may not even believe that they should allow themselves to be the tools of something greater than themselves.
In her book Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker wrote, “Idolizing human beings just isn’t the way Jesus built his community to thrive. He decentralized, empowering ordinary people to be carriers of the good news.” As a Christian, I believe that my hope lies in Jesus. As a Christian human being, I believe I have a responsibility to demonstrate that hope by serving and empowering others to serve, to be the change I want to see, not to just sit idly by waiting for someone bigger and more important than me to do the work.
Admittedly, in this particular season of my life, the physical manifestation of my hope more often than not comes in the form of material and financial donations. As I frantically maintain the life balance of wife, mother, and teacher, I do what I can, how I can.
I will no longer act in a way that puts hope in a person or organization. My hope is in Jesus. My hope is in an infallible God. My response to that hope will be to not intentionally act in a way that takes away hope from those who need it most.
What will you put your hope in?
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on hope from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.