God On Film 2010 part 3
Twilight: Eclipse - The Truth About Love
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 18, 2010



At beginning of service:

Did you know that Forbes magazine compiles a list every year of the richest fictional characters? That’s right; they figure out who is the richest person who doesn’t actually exist. And their list has included names like…

Ebeneezer Scrooge
Jabba the Hutt
Mr. Monopoly (Rich Uncle Pennybags)
Montgomery Burns
Thurston Howell III
The Tooth Fairy
Bruce Wayne (aka Batman)

Here’s the Top 5 from the most recent list, from 2009…

5.    Jed Clampett (from The Beverly Hillbillies… started out as a poor mountaineer who could barely keep his family fed. But while out one day shooting up some food, up from the ground came a’ bubbling crude – oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. And due to the rising price of crude oil over the past five or six years, he’s now worth $7.2 billion)
4.    Tony Stark (Iron Man and head of Stark Enterprises earned his money through defense contracts and is now worth an estimated $8.8 billion)
3.    Richie Rich (the poor little rich boy, who I used to love reading about as a poor little poor boy, is now worth $11.5 billion)
2.    Scrooge McDuck (whose net-worth has soared over the past year or two with record highs for the price of gold, is valued at $33.5 billion)
1.    Carlisle Cullen (a vampire who invested his money well and earned compound interest over the last 370 years. Plus, he has a daughter who can see into the future which no doubt helps when investing in the stock market – worth $34.1 billion making him the richest fictional character.)

Now, if you’re not familiar with who Carlisle Cullen is, then you obviously haven’t read any of the Twilight books or seen any of the movies. Well, don’t worry… you’re going to find out about Twilight here in just a little while.

No, we’re not going to be doing a character study on Carlisle Cullen. He’s actually only a secondary character in the series. But we will be looking at the main characters and some of the themes found in the series. So that’s in just a little while.

Right now, I want to invite you to join me in singing…

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In 1st Corinthians 13, the Bible talks about how there are three things that are more important than anything else in life: Faith, hope and love. And it says the greatest of these three is love. Love is the most important thing in life, and so that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning.

If you’re going to live life to the fullest, if you’re going to be the person you were meant to be, then you’re going to be a loving person.

1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1 (NLT)
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. Let love be your highest goal!

And the Bible really has a lot to say about this. In fact, the Bible says... read it with me…

1 John 4:16 (NLT)
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

God is love. It’s intrinsic to who He is. It’s part of His nature… His character. Loving is not something He does; it’s who He is. The whole Trinity is bound together with love. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And if you’re going to be godly, you’re going to learn to love, too. The Son… Jesus… tells us this:

John 15:12 (NLT)
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”

Jesus says, “You need to love each other. You need to be loving people. I have loved you; you need to pass that same kind of love on to others. If you want to know the truth about love and if you want to know how to love, then look at Me and how I have loved you.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 (NLT)
And do everything with love.

Colossians 3:14 (CEV)
Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.

We’re continuing this morning with our message series God On Film, looking at some of the blockbuster movies that are out this summer and drawing from them spiritual principles, comparing them with what the Bible has to say, and seeing how we can apply them to our lives.

And this week, the movie we’re looking at is all about love.

I’m talking, of course, about Twilight. The Twilight Saga, with the third movie Eclipse currently in theatres, is based on the Twilight series of books written by Stephenie Meyer. If you’re a fan, then you already know what the books and the movies are all about. For those of you who aren’t fans, have never read the books and have never seen the movies, basically it’s about good vampires and good werewolves who don’t get along with each other, but they choose to team up together against the bad vampires.

Vampires are everywhere these days. There are several current and recent TV shows featuring vampires… The Vampire Diaries, Blood Ties, Angel, Moonlight, and others, including a new one called The Gates that started just last month. And then there are the movies… Van Helsing, the Blade trilogy, Underworld… Dracula alone has been made into 170 different movies. Even Will Smith is getting in on the act. This past Friday, it was announced that he’s set to produce and star in a new movie based on Cain in the Old Testament with a vampire twist. No joke. (The Legend of Cain)

So vampires are all the rage right now, and a big part of the credit for that goes to the Twilight series.

So about Twilight… at the centre of it all is a love triangle between the human teenager Bella and her suitors, the vampire Edward and the werewolf Jacob. Those are the three main characters. Obviously the guys are adversaries as they compete to win over Bella, but they also have to team up against evil. And you really see that in the third installment of the series, Eclipse, which is in the theatre right now.

Now, the vampires in this series aren’t the run of the mill vampires. They’re not the ones with fangs who wear capes and sleep in coffins. In fact, they don’t sleep at all. And when they are exposed to direct sunlight, they don’t die. They sparkle. So they’re very private and are stand-offish toward humans because they don’t want to reveal what they really are.

Edward belongs to a group of vampires who have learned to control their thirst for human blood, and instead they choose to only feed on animal blood. They even call themselves vegetarians, although I’m sure PETA would have something to say about that. (Then again, they seem to have something to say about everything.)

Well, Bella moves to town and learns of Edward’s secret. And while Edward fights it for a while, the two fall in love. And that’s when things get complicated. Because some evil vampires learn that Edward has fallen in love with a mortal, and so they set out to kill her. So the first three movies… and I expect the rest of the series with two more movies in the works… is all about protecting Bella.

Add into that the werewolf Jacob, who also falls in love with Bella, and you’ve got a series. You even have fans taking sides as Team Edward or Team Jacob.

Now, the reputation the books and the movies have gained is that they are primarily for teenaged girls. At least, that’s what I thought. Until I actually watched the movies in preparing for today. Yes, there certainly is that sappy teenaged chick-flick element. It is an old-fashioned love story. But there are also some great action scenes and some very intriguing themes.

Stacey Stone is the host of morning show on Star 99.1 in New York City, and she has written a whole Bible Study series based on Twilight. And she talks about some of the reasons guys should pay more attention to Twilight.

For one thing, there is all that vampire/werewolf action. It’s not overly bloody – despite being about vampires – but there are some epic battles. Especially in Eclipse.

Plus, Edward actually comes across as a pretty good role model. Oh, he doesn’t always get it right… like in the first movie where he constantly sneaks into Bella’s room at night to watch her sleep. That’s not romantic; that’s creepy. But aside from that, he always wants to do the right thing even when it hurts, he treats Bella with respect, and yes, he’s even a virgin. Forget the 40 year old virgin; Edward’s 109. Imagine that: morality on the big screen. In Eclipse, he tells Bella that as much as he wants her, he wants to wait until they’re married. And yes, Bella is a virgin, too. So that’s a pretty positive part of the plot.

Oh, and another reason guys should like Twilight is because they can really identify with Edward. Edward can read minds… everyone’s mind except for Bella. So now, whenever Shera expects me to just know what she’s thinking, I can tell her, “Hey, I’m just like Edward. I can’t read your mind!”


Okay, so in Twilight you’ve got this love triangle, with Bella in love with Edward, even wanting to become a vampire herself, while at the same time fighting her feelings for Jacob. So I want to talk this morning on the truth about love. And I want to start by identifying for you two myths or misconceptions about love:


Misconceptions about Love:

A.    Love is only a feeling

You see this misconception in the way we talk about love… like when we say, “I fell in love.” Like stepping in dog poop: you’re not looking for it but it happens anyway. It’s just a feeling that happens to you, it can overwhelm you and consume you… And that’s all love is… that feeling or that emotion.

Now, love can cause feelings. We’ve talked about that before. In fact, it can cause the strongest feelings we can experience. But when that feeling… when that emotion is gone, does that mean the love is dead? No, not at all. Because love is not only a feeling. Love is an action. It’s something you do. Love is a behavior. Love can invoke feelings, but it is not the feelings. Feelings come and go. And they’ll come around again. But love remains.

Who do you love? Your husband, wife, children, parents, friends, pets… Have they ever ticked you off? Anyone what to share? When they ticked you off, did you “feel” love for them? No, you were angry, you were disappointed, you were hurt… you didn’t “feel” love, did you? But did you still love them? Of course you did.

You see, the problem with thinking that love is only that feeling is that when the feeling is gone you think the love is gone. That’s what people mean when they tell you, “I fell out of love.” The feeling is gone, so we must not love each other anymore, so let’s end the relationship. Right? If you’re relying solely on feelings, you’re going to give up on the relationship too quickly.

And the second misconception is that…


B.    Love is uncontrollable

Like with Cupid… you’re just going through life as normal, when suddenly you get hit by one of Cupid’s arrows. And you lose all control. The passion takes over.

But love is not uncontrollable. Love is something you choose.

You choose to love or you choose not to love. It is a choice you make whether you’re going to love or not. You can see this in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy…

Deuteronomy 30:20 (NLT)
You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him.

You choose to love God by committing yourself to Him, and that same principle is true for all relationships. You choose to love God, you choose to love others. You commit yourself to God, you commit yourself to others.

That’s true in marriages, and it’s true in any relationship. You choose to love. Even people who are unlovable, you can choose to love them anyway. Love is controllable. You can choose to love.

So with those misconceptions out of the way, let’s discover the truth about love…


The Truth about Love:

1.    Love is a matter of self-sacrifice

The very first line of the first Twilight movie has Bella narrating and saying…

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die. But dying in the place of someone I love seems like a good way to go.”
~ Bella, in Twilight

That sounds familiar. Take a look at what Jesus said…

John 15:13 (NLT)
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

It seems that Jesus would agree with Bella. Dying in the place of someone you love really is a good way to go.

And in the second movie, when the Volturi who enforce the laws of the vampire world sentence Edward to be executed, Bella actually offers her own life to the Volturi if they will allow Edward to live. Or, remain undead… or however that works with vampires. Love is a matter of self-sacrifice.

Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us…

Circle “love” and circle “sacrifice” and draw a line between them. If it isn’t a sacrifice it’s not real love. For Jesus, it meant that He literally laid down His life for you and for me. It could possibly mean the same thing for you, but odds are it won’t come to that. Still, love does require self-sacrifice.

Love means giving up. It means I give up my agenda for your agenda. It means I give up my time for your time. It means I give up my preferences for your preferences. It means I give up what I’d rather do right now to do what you’d rather do right now. That is self-sacrifice. That is love.


2.    Love is a matter of the will

This goes back to that “love is a feeling/love is uncontrollable” thing. Because love is more than just a feeling and it’s not something that’s beyond your control. You choose to love. It’s a matter of the will. And because it’s a matter of the will, you can even love the unlovable. Jesus asked…

Luke 6:32 (NLT)
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!”

In other words, big deal! Just because you love your family and your friends doesn’t make you a loving person. You can’t just love the people who love you and think that’s real love. That’s not being a loving person. Being a loving person is when you love the unlovable, when you love people who don’t love you in return, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who backbite you and gossip about you. Anybody can love people who love them. That’s takes no character at all. Real love is not reserved just for those who love you; it loves all.

And it loves through thick and thin. It’s a choice you make to keep loving, despite circumstances that may arise and issues that need to be addressed. When you don’t feel like loving, you choose to keep loving anyway because it’s a matter of the will. Paul wrote…

1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.


3.    Love is a matter of conduct

You can say you love someone, but do you really love them? The proof is not in your words or your feelings; it’s in your actions.

1 John 3:18 (CEV)
You show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.

Or the same verse from the New Living Translation…

1 John 3:18 (NLT)
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

You see the connection there between your love and your conduct? The truth is, real love is expressed through your actions. In fact, let me give you some good advice. If and when you get to a point that you don’t feel in love anymore, act in love anyway. Buy those flowers, go on those dates, pay attention to them, hold their hand, love them even when the feelings aren’t present, and the feelings will follow.

I think that’s true in marriages; I think that’s true in any relationship. Act like you love them, and the feelings will follow. It even works that way in your relationship with Jesus…

Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT)
“You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”

What’s Jesus say? “You don’t love Me like you used to. So act like you love Me, and the feelings will follow.” Love is a matter of conduct.


4.    Love is a matter of commitment

Till death do us part? Now that’s commitment. I’m not sure how that works with the undead, since they’ve already died. But assuming you’re not a vampire, “till death do us part” is a pretty serious commitment, isn’t it?

Love is a matter of commitment when it comes to marriage, and it’s a matter of commitment when it comes to any relationship. Love say, “I’ll be there for you. Even when it’s inconvenient, even when you’re going through a tough time, even when it’s not fun… I’ll be there for you. You can count on me.”

And listen, people will let you down. You will get frustrated. You will be disappointed. But love means you’re going to be there for them anyway. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

Ephesians 6:23 (NLT)
…May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness.

Do you have a love that is faithful? I did a search in the Bible for the phrase “unfailing love”, and I discovered that the phrase “unfailing love” is found 121 times in the Bible. True love… the love God has for us and the love He wants us to have for each other… is unfailing. It’s faithful. It’s a committed love.

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honour.


5.    Love is a matter of forgiveness

And this may be the most difficult part of loving. Forgiving.

You really see this in New Moon, the second part of the Twilight series. Because right at the beginning, Edward is gone. He takes off on Bella. He goes away, he doesn’t contact her, he leaves her on her own. Of course, he has his reasons for doing that. And he thinks he’s doing the right thing. Even though the separation is painful for both of them, he believes it’s what he has to do in order to keep Bella safe. And you’ve got to respect him for that. That’s part of the self-sacrifice we talked about earlier.

But eventually they do get back together. And Bella has to decide, is she going to forgive him for hurting her like that? And of course she chooses to forgive him. Whether her father will forgive him or not is yet to be seen. But true love forgives.

1 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)
[Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

It was His love for you and for me that nailed Him to the cross, all so we could be forgiven. And because he do willingly forgave us and doesn’t carry a grudge against us, He expects us to forgive each other with that same kind of love.

1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

That’s true, isn’t it? Parents, when your kids mess up, do you stop loving them? No, you keep on loving them and that love can help both of you move on. It doesn’t excuse sin or look the other way, but it helps you get past it. It doesn’t mean that you forget about it, but it does mean that you’re not going to bring it up all the time and hold it over their head like a weapon. Why? Because love is a matter of forgiveness. Love is the power and the motivation behind forgiveness. Forgiveness is perhaps the most powerful expression of love. So if you are going to truly love others, you’re going to learn to forgive.


Okay, so that’s the Truth about Love. Right now, I’d like to lead us in a prayer. And if you’d like to pray along, then you can do so right where you’re at by praying along where you’re at. You can pray along silently, you can agree in prayer by just saying to God, “Yes Lord, that’s my prayer, too.” But let’s take a few minutes to join together in prayer.


Prayer:

Father, every time we look at the cross we’re reminded of the extent of Your love. We know we didn’t deserve it, we know we were the cause of Your heartache and pain, but yet You loved us anyway. And your Word speaks so strongly about that. Verses like…
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God…
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Your lovingkindness is better than life.
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends… Great is His faithfulness.
Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You love is amazing, Lord, and we’re so grateful that you so freely shower that love on us. And it’s our prayer this morning that you will enable us to love others with the same kind of love you have for us. That’s a high calling, but it’s exactly the kind of love you’ve called us to have for others. And the truth is, we need Your help if we are ever going to love like that. You are love. We can’t love fully without You.
So Lord, I’m going to pray first of all that you will help us in our homes. May love be the norm. May we be patient with each other, may we be kind, may we be tenderhearted and faithful. May our words be loving and not harsh. And may we be forgiving. With our spouses, with our children, with our parents… may the love of God flow freely in our homes.
And then with our friends… our neighbours… our coworkers. Teach us what it means to really love our neighbour as ourselves. It can be so easy for us to get so caught up in our own problems and our own lives that we neglect those around us. Don’t let us be like that. Teach us to be generous and thoughtful, to perform acts of love and compassion… to give freely of ourselves, even when it involves self-sacrifice.
And may that be true even when it comes to the unlovable… with people we don’t necessarily get along with, people who we might even consider to be enemies… It’s easy to love those who love us. The true test of love is, can we love those who don’t love us? Lord, when we look at You, You loved the very people who nailed you to the cross. And if you can love the people doing that to you, we have no excuse for not loving the unlovable people in our lives. But again, we need You to help us do that.
Fill us with Your love. As Your Word says, sanctify us through and through. May us holy. Make us more like You, so that we can love like You.
That’s our desire, that’s our prayer. And we pray it in the powerful and loving name of Jesus.
Amen.

 

 

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