True Friendship….a Revisit

I just finished reading (for the forth or fifth time), The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader. I know what you may be thinking and yes it is 211 pages of awesome. But that is beside the point, I came upon a passage that was a conversation between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. I mentioned in my previous post about friendship, the fact that Palpatine calls Vader/Anakin “friend” 4 times. This bugs me because the last thing that Palpatine ever was to Anakin or Vader was a friend. According to the book this conservation had occurred several times and started with the same taunting question:

Palpatine: “Are you afraid of death, Lord Vader?”
Darth Vader: “No, Master.”
“Then why do you go on living?”
“To learn to become more powerful, Master.”
“Do you seek such power so you might try to strike me down?”
“You are my path to power, Master. I need you.”
“Yes, my apprentice. Remember, your place, and that you have much to learn.”

Now compare this conservation with the last talk that Obi Wan had with Anakin before he turned to the dark side. Obi Wan was about to leave on his mission to find General Grievious, and Anakin took this opportunity to apologize for his recent behavior. In response Obi Wan said, “Anakin, you are strong and wise and I am very proud of you. I have trained you since you were a small boy. I have taught you everything I know and you are far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to become. But be patient Anakin, it will not be long before the council makes you a Jedi Master.”

The way that each of these men talk to Anakin is very different, one seeks tear him down and the other, to lift him up. One really was a true friend, one other was only using Anakin in his own quest for glory and power. One loved Anakin, and the other, most certainly did not.

People flow in and out of our lives, probably more often than one may notice. Most are trustworthy and honest, although few may use us for their own selfish needs, whether it be attention, money, or time. Much like Palpatine (although not nearly as severe), these “friends” are not going to look out for the needs of the other person. And will probably move on to someone else, when a better opportunity presents itself. It is important to know who your true friends are, they will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. They won’t push you into something that you are not ready for, and will value your happiness and well-being. The Bible teaches about love in several places and in 1 John 4:7 it states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Love, is important, from it flows, hope, trust, patience, understanding, and forgiveness. Without love it’s difficult to be true friend. For if you love someone, regardless of how much, a friendship will surely blossom.

Friendship is not always easy, and it certainly wasn’t for Anakin and Obi Wan, but love (that is the love that Luke had for Anakin) is what brought him back. And Obi Wan, well, he was ready to forgive Anakin, and welcome him back as a friend.

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True Friendship

There is one thing that always bothers me every time we watch Star Wars, having to hear the Emperor call Anakin, “friend”. I have seen those movies many times and not once did I see him do anything that was “friend-like” toward Anakin. He convinced Anakin to mistrust to Jedi, storm the Jedi temple, think he could achieve some great power by following the Dark Side but never anything that showed true friendship. All of the Emperor’s actions were for selfish reasons, not caring what these acts would do to Anakin or the people around him. Yet Anakin was called “friend” by this guy not once, not twice, but three times.

When the Emperor was still Chancellor Palpatine he spent years being “buddy-buddy” with Anakin, earning his trust and getting him to agree with his ideas. The enemy can work in the same way, moving in too close trying to make us think that his ways and his thoughts are the ones we should listen to. The enemy may make you feel like he is on your side-just as Palpatine did with Anakin. Do not be fooled he is not your friend and never will be, just how Palpatine was never Anakin’s friend, he was barely even Darth Vader’s friend.

In Proverbs 22:24-25 it says, “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Sounds like the situation Anakin found himself in does it, I mean what kind friend would pull someone through the muck that Anakin was pulled through. All of that was for Palpatine, to bring him glory, to bring him power. Once Anakin had outlived his usefulness, Palpatine was going to have his next guy kill him, which he was hoping would be Luke. By listening to the words of his so called friend, Anakin ended up fighting his true friend and probably the best friend he ever had.

Obi-Wan had been patient with him, he cared about Anakin enough to tell him the things that he needed to hear, rather than feeding his foolishness by telling him the things he wanted to hear. Obi-Wan was a true friend that turned into Darth Vader’s enemy. You can see it in Obi Wan’s eyes and hear it in the tone of his voice when he speaks about Anakin in Episode IV, just how much he still misses him. It is important to be mindful who you allow into your circle of friends, because it is true what it says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character.”

It can be easy to be enticed by the words of the enemy but we all have the authority given to us by Jesus to but the enemy back in his place. Never be afraid to tell him he no longer has the right (in fact he never had the right) to rule over your heart or keep your true self in the background. Do not be afraid to speak God’s truth over the situation, the enemy doesn’t need an explanation he just needs to know that he is not welcome. After all in the end did Anakin give the Emperor any explanation? So do not associate with those who anger easily for bad company corrupts good character and be mindful of your friends.

Remember, there is one that you can go to any time for anything and He, truly is the best friend you’ll ever have.