What's exciting you more? The latest Star Wars release or the imminent return of the Lord Jesus?
It's a bit of a cheap shot. An easy hit at the conscience of many Christian fans of the Force. Because we know that we should be more excited about the prospect of coming face to face with not just the most wonderful person to have ever lived, but God himself. However, the tangible reality of another adrenalin filled instalment of sci-fi's most popular saga just seems more thrilling.
In our house Rogue One rules. Our son, who is in Australia for 6 months, was rubbing in the time difference in this morning. He gets to go on Thursday a full 11 hours before Thursday even starts here! My wife was begging me to go and see it next week. This isn't because she can't go without my permission, but because she wants me to come to. A romantic night out in silent tension!
What we love about Star Wars is the old tale of the battle between good and evil - with some very cool space ships and weapons! The nice thing about Rogue One is that it's a prequel. So we already know that whatever happens in this film, the baddies get it in the end. Good wins out.
And that is what should excite us about the return of the Lord Jesus. Good wins out. We know that the battle is won. Jesus has died for sin and risen as the first fruits of the resurrection, so we are merely waiting for him to come and gather His people and rid the world of all that is bad. So whatever happens in this life, if Jesus is your king, you will win.
I expect that that's why the Christians of Aleppo this morning will be longing to see Him, rather than longing to get to the cinema. The world of evil in which we live is inescapable for them. The same is true of the Christians of Saudi Arabia or Iraq or North Korea or anywhere where confessing that you follow Jesus Christ will lead to you being persecuted. That great news is that they know one day. One day soon. The suffering will end. And they will see him face to face.
Now, with the martyrs in heaven, they cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10)
It's not just Christians in war torn countries. There are those whose physical pain, or deep sense of grief and loss, or relational misery, cannot be eased by the trimmings of Western culture. Those for whom a world without death or pain or hate is comfortably top of their Christmas list.
My problem is that I have been conned by my comfort. Because I can walk safely into work. Because I can stand up openly and speak about Jesus in the public arena. Because my children are going to a good school. Because my plate is full at lunchtime. Because I sleep soundly(ish) at night. Because I don't care enough about the suffering of the world or God's people. I am slow to share Christ with others and slow to long for the day when He will make all things good and new.
I'm going to enjoy Rogue One. But I'm praying that my hearts desire will be that I will see my Saviour soon. Not just for my sake. But for the sake of His people and the glory of His name.