Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

For those of you who’ve spent the holidays under a rock and have yet to […]

R-J Heijmen / 1.14.16


For those of you who’ve spent the holidays under a rock and have yet to participate in the global phenomenon that is The Force Awakens (or if you just don’t care), I promise that this little ditty contains no spoilers like the one some Sith Lord left on a stickie attached to my Han Solo mug.

Coming out of Star Wars, my youngest son asked me an interesting question: “Kylo Ren just really wanted to be bad, huh?” I thought it over for a moment and answered “no, he just really wanted to be powerful.” And this led me to an insight which may be obvious to many, but wasn’t to me: power and love are incompatible.

They are incompatible because love will, inevitably, at some point, force you to be weak: to admit that you were wrong, or to care in a way that leaves you vulnerable. The ambition to power leaves no room for distractions (temptations!) like joy, peace, mercy or confession.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS -- "Don't Go" Episode 510 -- Pictured: Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor -- Photo by: Bill Records/NBC

There was a woman I knew in college who was fiercely driven. She had left home the day after her high school graduation and was paying her own way through school, debt-free, by living the dual life of a full-time student and full-time employee. Nothing would stop her, she told me, from fulfilling all her professional goals, least of all relationships. She might get married some day, but only when all of her career dreams had been realized and she had found someone who would agree to an absolute 50/50 split of all household and potential child-rearing duties. In this quest for professional power she worked 16 hour days and often drove 100 mile tours between work and school.

11CRAZY1-master675-v2Then she had a anxiety attack. And, in the aftermath, as she began reading a few Christian classics and considering Jesus, she discovered, to her astonishment, that all of the desires she had been suppressing – love, peace, joy – were actually the meaning of life. She gave up on her ambition and embraced her humanity.

This woman and Kylo Ren make it clear why Jesus came as a baby, a penniless and persecuted preacher, why he was willing to be whipped and killed. In Jesus, God’s love for us is so deep that he is willing to be weak. We are God’s Achilles heel, His vulnerability, and the giving up of His power makes Jesus utterly unique among those who have claimed to be or speak for God. As I oscillate between the demands of my ego and my desire to love and be loved, I pray that I will never forget the incompatibility of those two voices.