Last night’s banquet got me thinking about Darth Vader. Yeah, I know, what does Darth Vader have to do with church anyway? That’s what I thought to until I saw the clip I am about to show you. Just to give those of you who do not know much about Darth Vader and Star Wars, here’s a summation… Anakin Skywalker was a youth who dreamed about being a Jedi Knight, a fighter for good and protector of the innocent. As he chased his dream he was lured onto the dark side, which is about dominion, power, control, and destroying anyone or anything that gets into your way. Before he turned to the dark side, he had twins, one of them Luke Skywalker, the other Princess Leia. Anakin grew in power and darkness to become Darth Vader, who serves his master, the leader of evil, the Emperor. Later in his life, Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father. This clip is a meeting between the two, both trying to persuade the other to come to their side…

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Although I see at least five different sermons in this one short clip, I believe God wants us to focus on one in particular:

Is there a point we can, or should, give up on someone?

When it came to Luke and his father, Darth Vader, Luke kept going back to Darth Vader in hopes of restoring him to the good side.
Why did Luke keep going back?
Why did Luke not give up, even after all the fights, the manipulations, even Darth Vader cutting off Luke’s hand?
How did Luke withstand the temptations Darth Vader kept offering him to come over to the dark side?
How did Luke keep his hopes up for reconciliation with his father, even when it seemed so hopeless?

What about the Darth Vaders in our lives?
What are we to do with those we love who continue to push us and God’s truth away.
When is enough, enough and it is time to just give up on someone?
When do we just stop and let go of someone who continues to offend us, or continues in their sin?
If we don’t give up, how can we continue fighting for someone when it seems impossible for them to ever change?
How can we continue hoping for reconciliation when they fight so hard against us?

Let’s open our Bibles to Romans 9:1-3, Romans 10:1
If Paul’s heart desire was for all Jews to know Jesus as Lord, how did he demonstrate it?
1 Corinthians 11:24-27

Let’s stand back for a moment and look at Paul’s life. He began as a Jew of Jews, a high and respected Jewish leader who himself persecuted the early Christian Church. He was zealous for the Jewish faith, trying to destroy all believers in Jesus. Until one day Paul experienced a dramatic salvation experience. Then he himself became persecuted by those he loved, the Jews. He desired for them to understand Jesus is the Messiah they were so desperately seeking.
Although Paul’s ministry was mainly to the Gentiles, or non-Jews, Paul would teach in and near the synagogues, speak the truth when interrogated by the Jewish leaders in the hopes they would embrace the truth.

Look at everything Paul experienced trying to proclaim the Gospel. His love for God was so great he wanted everyone to know about Jesus. Paul was willing to suffer as he shared his faith to others. What is exciting is to hear and read testimonies through the ages of Jews accepting Jesus as the Messiah because of Paul’s writings in the New Testament. Think about it. Paul’s desire to have his people saved. Paul was willing to suffer for them to know the truth. And numbers of Jews we cannot imagine have come, and still are coming, to know Jesus as their Savior!

Ok, back to Luke Skywalker. Did his perseverance and love win over his father, Darth Vader? Sorry for the spoiler, but yes, he did. Not only that, but they were reconciled before Darth Vader dies.

Luke never gave up hope, he continued to fight for his father’s heart.
Paul never gave up, he continued to fight for his people and anyone else who would listen to him.

And neither should we.
Think about it, what if we never gave up hope for a loved one to be saved and know Jesus as Lord?
What if we fought for those we loved?
What if we never gave up on those who have lost all hope?
What if we had the perseverance of Paul and continued to fight the good fight until we see our Lord Jesus face to face?
What would your family look like then?
What would our community look like?
What would our church look like if we loved through the pain, overlooked the offenses, fought for those without hope, took back from hell what has been stolen?

What if, just what if, you and I, just like Paul, persevered through the lashings of words, their gossip and lies, their continual rejection, the heart ache and pain?
I can think of a couple of people I should not give up on.
How about you? Who is the Darth Vader in your life?
Or the nonbeliever whom you have loved?
Who is the people group who persecutes you like the Jews did Paul?
Or the parent, the son or daughter, or family member who continues in sin?
Who is the estranged friend or loved one who is lost and rejects you continually.
Who is that person God has placed on your heart and challenges you at every turn?

I challenge you to continue to love that person or persons with the tenacity and the perseverance of Paul.
1 – Pray, pray without end for those who do not know Jesus, or those who are a challenge in your life.
Great way to do this is to pray Scripture…
Ezekiel 11:19-20
2 Corinthians 4:6
2 – Praise them. Pray for the areas they need improvement and for where they need God’s truth in their lives. But praise them for what they are doing right, no matter how small. Encourage them! Give them a hope. Throw them a life line by acknowledging when they are doing something right.
3 – Love on them. Keep trying. Be gentle, be kind, be real. Many people do not believe they are worth being loved. They lose hope easily. Your love can open their eyes to their value, and open their hearts to the love of Christ which brings healing. Let God work through you.
4 – Never give up. Even through the pain, sacrifice, and rejection the other person may be giving you. Never give up! That is exactly what Satan wants you to do! Fight for them! You may be the only one, don’t stop!
As you walk this journey fighting the good fight for others, remember you are not walking alone.
Your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.
Your prayers are powerful, because you are talking to the living God, who already won the victory!
We sang about it earlier, we have the power of Jesus’ blood, of His victory over death and everything that is evil!
I’ve seen it over and over, the power of prayer in the lives of others.
Jesus has the victory to change a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I know, because He changed mine. Let’s pray.