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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Perfect Lover: How Reading a Vampire Book Brought Me Closer to Jesus - An Intimate Relationship with the Perfect Lover

(click for previous chapter: Absolute Provision)

For three weeks, I’ve been sharing how reading a vampire book has brought me closer to Jesus, examining the hero attributes found in most fairy tales but are particularly pronounced in the Twilight Saga.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: absolute abandon by someone who forgives every sin, overlooks and/or makes up for every weakness or shortcoming and doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t condemn mistakes. This kind of love always involves peril, sacrifice and choice.

UNYIELDING COMMITMENT: a covenant (or promise or treaty or oath) requiring trust as well as trustworthiness. Both parties have a role and a responsibility to fulfill.

TIMELY RESCUE: ultimate action for safety and security long-term, saving from death. The damsel is in helpless distress and the hero is her only chance of salvation.

SACRIFICIAL PROTECTION: Something larger, stronger and more powerful than ourselves plucking us out of harm that comes our way or the messes we get into ourselves.

ABSOLUTE PROVISION: a natural outflow of a relationship in which the giver is more important and sought after than the gift.

Twilight’s Edward displays all of these hero attributes in such a powerful way that he’s become a worldwide heart throb and romantic icon, a modern day Prince Charming. His character has touched a deep, secret place imprinted into our souls that cries out for a Perfect Lover. Everyone, whether they know it or not, crave being the Bella to someone’s Edward in some shape or form. Life, after all, is based on relationships.

The missing link, however, is the awareness that a mere human was never meant to fulfill that desire – not to the extent that Edward did for Bella. But then again, Edward was no mere human. He had been human, but now was something more.

No one here on earth can claim that – that something more part.

But Jesus can.

Jesus’ love, however, is far greater.

He started out as the something more and made a conscious decision to accept human flesh as a permanent garment. I used to think that once He gave His life on the cross and defeated Hell and death, He went home to the Father in the same way He’d come down. Imagine my amazement to learn – the decision to put on humanity was an eternal decision. He will always be both – all God and all man. That impressed on me a whole new understanding of His sacrifice.

We do have human lovers as examples, true, and there should be a degree of reflection of the supernatural relationship we experience with Jesus. It is 'fair' in a sense for women to expect the hero stuff because we were designed to want it, to be cherished and sought and won. And Paul does tell husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. (Eph. 5:25-28)

The problem arises when women expect men, fallen and imperfect, to fulfill the Perfect Lover’s role when we are supposed to rely solely on Jesus for that.

It's a fine line. A circle of expectations in the proper order is a good thing. Getting them out of whack is bad.

We're drawn to Edward because of his masterful demonstration of hero characteristics, but we are out of order when we worship Edward or expect real men to be Edward especially when he doesn't represent real men at all, but the Perfect Lover. On the flip side, we don't worship Jesus for the hero He is because we don't realize or grasp He is the epitome of those hero characteristics.

Being drawn to Edward, or any other romantic hero for that matter, is not bad, as long as we understand why we are drawn and to make the transition from fictional representations to reality… to Jesus Christ.

Two nuggets of awesomeness (yes, I just made that up) stand out as I seek to sum this up.

First nugget - choice is the main ingredient of unconditional love.

Throughout their relationship, Edward leaves Bella’s freedom to choose in tact despite his power and ability to take it away. He limits himself to keep from lording over her. He makes a choice to let her live and then furthermore to keep her alive. Then he gives her a choice, to be friends or not to be friends. Back and forth, they exchange opportunities to choose to serve each other. This is the definition of a relationship built on unconditional love.

Unconditional love ends when choice is removed.

The Truth is God has given us the gift of free will. He has never taken away our freedom of choice when it comes to loving Him. God chose to love/serve us by dying in our place. Our choice is to accept that Love or not. When we choose to accept Him, we gain all the benefits of a relationship with Him. When we choose not to accept Him, we miss out on communion with our Perfect Lover. He still and always loves us. But our choice affects our path.

If Bella had chosen to stay away from Edward at any point during the story, he would not have stopped loving her, but the other benefits of being in a relationship with him would have stopped too. But she did accept him, and from that point on she got the privilege to know him. At the same time, he got the privilege to know her. A relationship formed.

Second nugget – the love of the Perfect Lover frees us to love others.

There are two types of relationships – that which we have with our Perfect Lover, Jesus, and those we have with other humans. They are reflections of each other.

Accepting and knowing we are secure in an intimate relationship with the Perfect Lover, complete with the full benefit package of love, commitment, protection, provision, fills the vacancy in our souls, so we don’t search for human replicas, force unrealistic expectations or accept less than we ought out of desperation or fear. If we fill up with the Real Thing, we’ll overflow with the right things (Gal. 5:22-23). That will always result in love for others, paving the road to happier and healthier human relationships.

That’s what it means to be Christ-like. (Matt. 22:37-39)

I learned something in Sunday School recently. In the Gospels, there are only a handful of times it says that Jesus had to do something (click for word study - had to means must needs to), such as be lifted up on the cross to die. One of those occurrences happened when Jesus traveled from the Jordan River to Galilee by way of Samaria. If you look at a map, Samaria is not exactly on the way from His point A to point B. So why did He take the detour? The Scripture says He had to go to Samaria (Jn. 4:1-26).

The beautiful answer is… He went there to meet the Samaritan woman at the well. Yes, the had to probably had a little to do with Him obeying His Father’s will. But I believe that the had to also applied to the state of His heart, His love for that one woman, the yearning necessity to offer her Living Water personally.

I quiver to think that He felt that way when He found me – that He just had to.

A Lion declaring unconditional love and pledging unyielding commitment to a lamb - what an awesome thing.

I hope you’ve been able to see how reading a vampire book has brought me closer to Jesus.

We’ve got two more days of Twi-blogs! Wednesday the 18th, I’ll highlight a few of the other Biblical analogies I drew from reading the Twilight Saga, including what Jacob represents, who the Volturi really are, and other interesting tidbits.

Friday the 20th, I’ll review the movie version of New Moon opening in theatres that day. I’ve already got my tickets for the 12:01 am show. J

See you then!

(click for next chapter: Extras)

(Post photos from http://photobucket.com/)

3 comments:

lynnrush said...

Fantastic, Lori. Your insight challenges my boxed in concepts.

This one is my fav: "Second nugget – the love of the Perfect Lover frees us to love others."

So true. The security of true love allows me to extend that to others. Jesus' love but even my hubby's love. I rest in those and they give me confidence.

Susanne Dietze said...

This series has been so fun and thought-provoking, Lori. I think it's so important to understand that we all do long for unconditional love, and there's a reason. Great job. I'll miss this series!

Sarah said...

Lori,

I just found your blog via google alerts "vampire devotional" search.
I am so glad to have found you! Being so positively impacted myself by the Twilight books, I started "Twilight Devotions," a blog which focuses on finding God in the Twilight Series. I find that, sadly, we are the vocal minority on the blogosphere. I wanted to voice my support for your insights, and let you know I'll be listing you in my links section, and will reference you where appropriate in future posts.

In Christ,

Sarah Baker
http://www.twilightdevotions.wordpress.com/