The Old Testament sucks like Episode I, II, and III of Star Wars suck

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With all of the hype of the new Star Wars trailer, and George Lucas socking it to us Star Wars fans by allowing us to buy, once again, another round of movies, now in HD, it got me thinking about things in a new way.

I bought Episode IV, once again, and watched it with my son, and as I did, I remembered why I loved this movie so much.  AND, I remembered why I hated episodes I, II and II so much.  That is when it hit me, for non Star Wars fans, The Old Testament sucks just like Episode I, II and III suck.  For huge fans of Star Wars, just like huge fans of Jesus, getting through Episodes I, II, and III, are a labor of love, similar to reading through the OT.  Now, lets unpack this a bit.  

Do you remember watching Episode 1 of Star Wars.  It was the worst!  

For people with zero touch points with the original trilogy, it was a poorly done movie that relied too much on CGI and cheesy characters.  You had no emotional connection with the characters and the poor acting was a total put off.  

The entire point of Episodes I, II, and III was to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and his transformation from child slave into the infamous Darth Vader.  The movies did just that, but in a totally un-compelling way.  And because of that, anyone who's first taste of the Star Wars franchisee were these movies, they walked away with a limited understanding of the total story and didn't get to experience the emotional payoff of episodes IV, V and VI.  

For those of us Star Wars nerds who are totally invested in the franchise and who's childhood was shaped by Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princes Leia, Han Solo  and R2-D2, the prequel moves were the most anticipated movies of our generation as well as the biggest letdown.  

Most Star Wars fans would agree that the movies were awful, but the truest fans still went to see them and even saw them several times.  The reason was that we are totally invested in the story and in the characters.  Even a poor story telling of the back story of our favorite characters was still interesting and added color and details to the story we already loved.  

But for the the casual movie goer, I would argue, that not one person really cared about little Anakin Skywalker.  And in a similar way, I want to argue that for the casual Christian and for those outside of the Christian Faith, the Old Testament is guilty of everything that Episode I, II, and III is guilty of.  

THE NEW TESTAMENT IS EPISODE IV, V, and VII.

To keep this analogy going, consider this:  The New Testament, the gospel accounts of Jesus begin right in the middle of an incredible political and spiritual drama.  Jesus is born in the house of David, in a small and insignificant Jewish family during a Roman occupation.  The story unfolds where this Jesus grows in wisdom and stature as well while having direct conflict with the religious and political leaders of his day.  The climax of the story is the death and Resurrection of Jesus and the restoration of his disciples.  

Just like the end of episode IV, this could be the only movie you see.  It is a stand alone story with everything you need in a good drama.  But as you know, the story continues.  Where episode V and VI tells the middle journey of the rebel alliance, to the final destruction of the Evil Empire, the rest of the New Testament unpacks the history of the church and the trajectory of crushing our own version of the Evil Empire.  EPIC MOVIES!!  EPIC STORY!  Lets hear it for John, Romans, Colossians, and Revelation!

THE OT IS SIMPLY BACKGROUND NARRATIVE:

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The Old Testament is thick and incredibly interesting, said no one.  :)  I know you want to push back on me and defend how interesting it is, but unless you are the very rare breed of OT junkie, similar to Star Wars geeks who frequent A-1 comics, you are just having a knee jerk response.  

Of course there are interesting things in the OT, and there are stories that our foundational to our understanding as Christians, but those stories are few and far between.  You know how I know, I have simply talked to non-Christians, brand new Christians, and Christians who have been a part of our church for a long time, and every one of them doesn't know what to do with the Old Testament.  For them it is a stumbling block, and causes them to be tentative in their faith, or it is a hurdle to overcome as they explore faith.  

The Old Testament is historical narrative that documents the inception of the people of Israel and the ways God uses this people group to establish a covenant with God, establish a land, and communicate who God is and what God expects from His people.  God sets himself up for the need for a Priest, a King, and a Prophet.  

The setup for these realities takes thousands of years, and is documented in a style and through a world view totally different from ours.  Even told today by modern film makers, the story is a challenge and drags on.  (Ask the director of that new movie Exodus)

The pay off comes in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  For it Jesus Christ who now is the fulfillment of the Priest, the fulfillment of the King, and the fulfillment of the Prophet.  That is the very good news!  The Death Star has been destroyed!  

JUST BECAUSE IT SUCKS, DOESN'T MEAN ITS NOT IMPORTANT.

As I have talked to my friends about this idea, the push back seems to be not giving the proper dignity the OT deserves.  But what if part of the problem we are in culturally with people's messed up views of Christianity are because we have given too much weight to the OT.  Just because it was bound in a book and put first, doesn't necessarily give it primacy.  

Andy Stanley, my future boss, has just started a new series where he touched on some of this.  He brought up the Council of Jerusalem where James and Peter and the other disciples were trying to decide how much weight to give the OT, the Jewish law and customs.  Were Christians going to have to be circumsised?

James steals the show with when he declares, "It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult of the Gentiles who are turning to God."  Acts 15: 19.  He sums up the OT laws that are still important as, not to eat meat sacrificed to Idols, and abstain from sexual immorality.

That's it.  So, lets give our people, our students a break and not force them to own the OT, to feel bad for not reading the OT, and plenty of grace for not understanding or being offended by the OT.  

For as they fall in love with Jesus, and they are blow away at the depth and richness in the Gospel accounts and in the Epistles, they will eventually long for even more depth.  After reading in Hebrews about Jesus being the great high priest, they will be compelled to know the backstory of Melchizedek, the priestly role in the Torah, and the purpose of the curtain.  Then they will be blown away even more the next time they read about how the curtain was torn in two when Jesus was crucified.  

IT IS OUR LOVE FOR THE MAIN STORY THAT MAKES THE BACK STORY INTERESTING

I love watching all those nerds at Comic Con get dressed up as their favorite characters.  They know everything about Star Wars.  The know things that aren't in the movies, or books.  But somehow they have found obscure characters, planets, and stories that somehow matter.  And they matter only to the other nerds at Comic Con.  The exact same thing is true for people who love the OT. 

No one reads through Genesis and loves Abraham, or Jacob, or even Joseph.  You read through Genesis and you can't believe God wipes out the earth and saves Noah, you can't believe that Lot's daughter get him drunk and sleep with him, you are horrified that Abraham seems willing to sacrifice his own son, and you can't believe that Jacob, who later  becomes Israel, was such a momma's boy.  

It is awful and boring.  And that has to be ok.  It is all back story that puts all the pieces in place for the amazing story found in the incarnation.  Let us help people fall in love with Jesus, with his life, death, and resurrection.  Let us help our people fall in love with the documents that tell us in more detail about the implications of these events and the restored future that awaits.  And as people do, they will be compelled to grow in affection for the back story, for the strange events and people and will want to understand them and their place.  But that will be simply as back story.

I love the Old Testament.  But I also love Episode I, II, and III.  I love them because I love the main story with all my heart.  And it is my love for the main story that compels me dive into and understand all of the strange characters, lands, and events that set up stage for the most amazing movie, I mean story, of all time! :)

(Where does that put episode VII?  What is analogous to another testament? Maybe the Book of Mormon would be a good analogy. :) Enjoy the preview)