I am counting down the days to December 20th, 2019 because on that day the ninth episode of Star Wars premiers. I am anxiously awaiting the release of The Rise of Skywalker because I want to see what is store for the sequel trilogy characters. Over the movies, books, and comic books I have really enjoyed the development of Poe, Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. It has been engaging to watch these characters grow. I am looking forward to the story arcs of each character reaching a conclusion in the final episode.
Likely a lot of the movie will focus on the interconnected story line of Rey and Kylo Ren, but the character I am most interested in is Finn. From The Force Awakens to The Last Jedi, Finn’s character grew in compelling ways. I cannot wait to see how that growth is fully developed in Episode IX. For those who seek to follow Jesus, Finn serves as an illustration and an example we can follow.
When the audience is first introduced to Finn he is a storm trooper serving the First Order, but he wants to run and escape. As a way out, he helps free Poe, a Resistance pilot. When Poe asks Finn why he is helping him escape, Finn responds, “because it is the right thing to do.” However, he then confesses it is because in order to run away he needs a pilot.
In the Star Wars universe the First Order is undeniably evil, and the Resistance represents all that is good. By helping the Resistance, Finn was doing a good thing. However, his motivations were wholly self-serving. That largely stays true throughout The Force Awakens. Finn does heroic actions, but his reasons for doing so stay selfish. Throughout The Last Jedi, this begins to change. The character grows and he moves from a man who thinks of himself first to a true hero. When given the choice between putting himself first and choosing a side, Finn chooses to be a good guy. He learns that heroes do the right thing because it is the right thing. Finn reaches that point at the end of The Last Jedi, so now I am excited to see how the character lives into the role of being a hero and doing what is right.
For those who are Christians, the character arc of Finn can give pause for self-reflection. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 states: “Make sure that nobody pays wrong for wrong but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone.” We often know what is good, and we often know what is right. The question that considering Finn should raise is why do we do the right thing?
If we are being honest, sometimes our reasons for striving to do good are not fully altruistic. Often, people are motivated to do good for the wrong reasons. One of the most common crooked motives is to be rewarded. This motive can play out in all kind of ways. For some people they see life as a cosmic scale, and they do good so they can earn the reward of heaven. Others seek a reward in prestige and image. They want to be viewed as a good person, and their motivation for doing good is to keep up appearances. Even if good is done the reason for doing so is selfish.
A sense of duty is also a crooked motive that is another wrong motive that can be found among Christians for doing the right thing. We seek to do good for each other and everyone because we feel that we are supposed to. We go through the actions, but our primary motivation is to cross off an item on a to-do-list. This motivation treats doing good as little more than a chore.
In Philippians, Paul urged to have the mindset of Jesus, and that mindset is one that does the right thing because it is the right thing. With this mindset the reason why we do good is because it is good. The desire to honor God by doing what is right becomes an intrinsic part of our heart and soul. Like Finn, all who seek to be like Jesus need to make a journey where our motivations change. We are all flawed people, and inevitably our motivations to do good are darkened by self-serving impulses. Finn moved from coward to hero, and in the same way we move from imperfect to perfect. We do this by daily seeking to become more like Jesus. We do this by daily taking steps to put others first above ourselves and to have compassion on those who are different from us. The more we move to have the mindset of Jesus, the more likely we are to do the right thing because it is the right thing.
This December, Finn’s story will reach a conclusion. If his story arc continues to track in the same direction, then he will continue to grow into a hero. For the Christ follower, our journey to be like Jesus is one that last a lifetime. There will days with setbacks but there will also be days where we get a glimpse of what it means to love others the way God loves them. Christian perfection is a steady journey where we learn to embrace the light and do good for each other and everyone because it is good.