Scripture: Romans 1:16-25 (NIV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
When we first saw A New Hope, uninformed by any of the prequels, we thought that it had been a very long time since the Jedi had been a major force in the galaxy. After Revenge of the Sith, we found out that it was more like 20 years that saw the Jedi go from guardians of the galaxy (wait, that’s another franchise) to outcasts and legends. We’re seeing that some as well in the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, though at least there the Jedi weren’t that numerous, so it made some sense.
It only took a generation for the people of the galaxy to forget the Light. Even though the Jedi had been plentiful even in their lifetime, so many had put them on the dustbin of history, ignoring what they had done and what they had taught to pursue their own selfish ends. (Of course, having an evil Empire ruling things definitely didn’t help.) Evil is always there, just waiting for the crack in the door, the foothold so as to take root.
Paul had seen it. He’d seen people reject God and indulge themselves in whatever vices they could find. He saw them ignore what the Lord had planned and go on their own path, assured that they knew better, that they were the only ones that had any idea what was good for them. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” Paul writes.
Do we see that today? Do we live that today? There’s definitely times where we go off on our own way, when we enter the cave of the Dark Side without heeding the advice of the One who knows all. It seems like all around us, the truth of God is being exchanged and people are getting short-changed in the deal. How could you not?
All we can do is stay on guard, prayerfully watching over our lives to make sure that evil doesn’t find purchase. If we can keep the light alive in us, there’s always hope for the world.