I am excited that the next several years already have a Star Wars movie lined up. After the success of Rogue One, I have high ups for the 2018 Han Solo movie. My biggest request from that movie is I want them to tell the story of Chewbacca. I want to know the story of what Han Solo does exactly that leads the Wookie to pledge a life debt to the smuggler. The official Star Wars cannon mentions this is related to freeing Chewbacca from slavery, but none of the exact details are known. I am sure the movie will be great, but I really do hope the relationship between Chewbacca and Han Solo is fully explored.
The idea of a life debt is an interesting one. While the fictional details are not known, Han Solo did something so profound for Chewbacca, that the Wookie forever changed how he lived his life in order to honor something that he could never hope to repay. The idea of a life debt has applications to the Christian faith.
One of the common ways that salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is framed in the New Testament is as a ransom. One such example of this is the first chapter of 1 Peter. The New Living Translation renders verses 18 and 19 like this: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
A ransom is a payment made to get something back. God paid a ransom, which means God wanted us back. The concept of a ransom implies that we were God’s, but we were lost. This one word contains so much about the condition of humanity. We were created by God, in the image of God, to be in relationship with God. But we were lost to sin and death. Our own rebellion separated us from our creator, and like stubborn sheep we all went astray. As we just celebrated a couple of weeks ago, it was through the sacrifice of Jesus that we were redeemed. Jesus came to be the price that ransomed us from slavery to sin and death. The life of Jesus was the price to buy our eternal life. It is through him that we are reconciled with God. It is through him that we are liberated from the empty way of life. It is through his example that we are shown a new way to live, and it is through him that sin has lost its power and death has lost its sting.
What is truly remarkable about this ransom is that God was willing to pay it. 1 Peter 1:20 states: “[Jesus] was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” God created humanity out of God’s goodness and love to be in relationship with God. Yet this verse implies that God knew humanity would break God’s heart. God knew we would rebel, God knew we would worship false idols, and God knew we would be stiff-necked. God knew humanity would fall and God knew humanity would turn their back on their Creator. Despite knowing all of the trouble we would cause, God created us anyway. God loved us so much that before the world began God chose a part of Godself to be the price that ransoms us from our sinful behavior. God created humanity knowing that God would have to ransom back God’s own creation. God created us knowing the price to be in relationship with us was Jesus himself. God’s love is so great, so unfathomable, that God resolved to do this before the world was even created.
This all-encompassing love of God that was made known through Jesus Christ is quite honestly defines comprehension and attempting to define it boggles our minds. In the hymn “And Can it be that I should Gain”, Charles Wesley attempted to define this love. In the first verse of the hymn he asks the question that all of us should be asking: “Amazing love! How can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me?” We cannot understand the depths of that love. This is what makes the grace of God so amazing. We cannot understand this love, but we can respond to it. The question is, how? Once we accept that Jesus is our savior, once we accept that he died for our sins how do we continue to respond and honor that great act of love?
This is where the concept of the life debt comes in. Like Chewbacca and Han Solo, Jesus has done a great act on our behalf. The ransom paid to reconcile us with God is something we can never repay, but like Chewbacca we can honor it with our lives. Since we cannot repay the debt we owe to Christ, we can do the next best thing. We can submit our life to him. In Star Wars Chewbacca does this by pledging to always be there for Han Solo for the rest of his life. In our faith, we can have a similar Wookie sized faith by submitting our lives to Jesus rule. We follow the commands that he gave and follow in the example that he set forth.
One of the common expressions that is used to explain a life in faith is the biblical idea of being born again. When Chewbacca swore a life debt to Han Solo, it was a bit like being born again. He gave up the life he had previously known to be the first mate to a smuggler flying all over the galaxy. In the same way, our faith should lead us to being born again. To be born again means that believers in Christ live their lives differently. If being a Christian does not lead us to make different choices or life a different way than we would without faith, then we are doing it wrong. Swearing a life debt radically changed the life of Chewbacca, and being born again should radically change the life of a Christian. We should be living as if we have been born again. We should be live life differently due to the fact that we are saved by grace. As Christians we should live life as if we have sworn a life debt to Jesus. The act he has done on our behalf is so great so impossible to repay, that we should seek to honor that sacrifice with every fiber of our being.
The example of Chewbacca is one that all Christians can follow. In response to the great acts of Jesus the Christ, w can respond with our lives. We can follow the example of Jesus. We can love God with all of our being we can love our neighbor as ourselves. We can perfect the love of God by loving one another. We have been redeemed, ransomed, back to God because of the blood of Christ. May we live like the redeemed. May we live like those who have born again, and may we seek to honor Jesus with our lives. May we have a Wookie sized faith, where all we do is done to honor our Lord and our savior