Passion, romance and sacrifice collide with vampires, forbidden love and temptation in the eagerly awaited teen flick Twilight, based on Stephanie Meyer's bestselling book. Not since the dawn of the Harry Potter movies has a teen-book-turned-movie generated so much pre-release buzz.
For those who've remained oblivious to this intriguing vampire phenom, it takes a little explaining…and even then, you might still be left scratching your head. But here's the Horror Romance backstory.
Boy meets girl. Love blossoms. Simple enough, right? But wait…the boy, Edward, is a 108-year-old vampire (frozen at the age of 17) who finds himself madly attracted to his newly arrived 17-year-old classmate, Bella. You think your love life is filled with high drama?? I'm betting it doesn't hold a candle to this. This forbidden love requires Edward and Bella's willingness to embrace a complicated future, if there's to be any hope of surviving the multitude of mega cross-species obstacles. This goes way beyond Arwyn and Aragorn's elf/man sacrifices or Superman and Lois Lane's Kryptonic/human challenges. This involves a totally different level of commitment, like Edward not giving in to his desire to drink Bella's blood and Bella's willingness to relinquish her human soul to become a vampire.
What's the big appeal with this curious, quirky best-selling story line? Much of it has to do with these two characters' willingness to sacrifice all for each other. Bella wants to give herself to Edward, no matter the costs, while it's Edward who puts the brakes on her choices because they'll hurt her. He wants to do the right thing by her, regardless the cost to him. And in the end, that's what real love is truly all about. Sacrificial giving that goes beyond our own interest and looks out for the interests of others.
The Apostle Paul has some insights for us about generously giving of ourselves to others, regardless of whether there are romantic feelings involved or not. In Philippians 2: 3-8 he tells us:
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross (The Message).
Now that's sacrificial love. Setting aside the glories of heaven, Jesus bore the worst the world has to offer – the sins of all mankind, and extended to us totally undeserved grace and mercy through His death on the cross. That incredible gift of forgiveness is news that should burst forth in our lives and our words and overflow to those around us.
So try using the buzz that's swirling from Twilight to turn the conversation toward the real sacrificial love of Jesus. Here are some specific ideas to help you move the conversation toward God-talk:
• Who in the movie Twilight shows aspects of true love? How? Why do you think that?
• Does Twilight shine a spotlight on how to make principled, difficult moral choices? Or does it glorify the pursuit of romantic passion at all costs?
• The movie depicts numerous battles with temptation. What do you do with temptation? Share from Matthew 4 how Jesus used Scripture to fight against the Evil One's efforts to tempt Him.
• Have you ever experienced sacrificial love that puts others' interests above your own? Have you ever given it? If so, share from your experiences how it made you feel.
• Ask your friends if they know that Jesus' love for humankind is the ultimate example of sacrificial love. Share from Philippians 2:5-8.
While the Horror Romance movie genre may be entertaining, the reality of Jesus' sacred romance with humanity is life-changing. The unconditional love of God awaits anyone who's willing to entrust their hearts and lives to Jesus. Get the word out.