Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a trend in the stories I’ve come across. I found, to my surprise, that it is in almost every story ever made. Think over all the movies you’ve watched, and books you’ve read. If they’re good stories, they are almost guaranteed to have this theme at some level.
The theme is sacrificial love.
The first time I was really, truly, strongly impacted by self-sacrifice was when I watched Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve Rogers (Captain America) is continually laying down his life for others, and in the end he does it in a very powerful way. I was touched, sobered, and challenged by the sacrificial love in Captain America. It made me realize the true meaning of what Jesus meant when He told us to lay down our lives for others.
Ever since watching that movie, I’ve been on the look-out for stories with a similar theme. I’ve found that it is not so rare as I thought. As soon as I looked for it, I found dozens and dozens of stories in which sacrificial love is the main theme. The idea of someone giving their life for others is as old as the hills, and yet we never get tired of it. In fact, take the most popular stories from any era, and you’re almost guaranteed to find sacrificial love at the core.
And the more I thought about this, the more I realized something: sacrificial love doesn’t make sense. Not on an earthly level, at least. It flies in the face of everything that modern science tells us. Survival-of-the-fittest and selflessness are not only poles apart, they cannot exist together. Either one is true, or the other is. If evolution is true, then the more evolved we become, the more selfish we should be, not the other way around. After all, according to that premise, survival is all about keeping yourself going, alive, healthy, and happy. Self-sacrifice is the giving up of those things so another can enjoy them. Deduction, my dear Watson. When you have one thing (sacrificial love) that you know is real in conflict with a theory (evolution), you can logically deduce that the known fact is the true one.
So where does sacrificial love come from? We know it’s real. We know that there’s something in us that wants to stand up and cheer when we see one human giving himself up for another. Since it makes no sense from an earthly level, we have to look beyond Earth to find an answer. It has to have come from outside of us. I believe that the only answer to that question is in the Bible. It’s the greatest record of sacrificial love ever written.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.” John 3:16
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Christ said to His disciples, “This is my commandment, love each other as I have loved you.” (sacrificial love) John 15:12
That sums it all up. It’s not something that originated in Earth, or from humans. It came from God – Love Itself. God is the only one who can love others perfectly, and the only one who can help us to do it. The whole reason He came to earth was to die for us because of His love for us. If we accept that sacrifice and ask Him to be our master, He gives us the power to love others like He loved us.
No matter how much I applaud selfless love, it won’t do me any good unless I put it into practice. Time and time again, I’ve tried. I’ve tried being loving on my own; it usually doesn’t last an hour. But when I simply ask for help, God gives it. When I allow Him to love through me, amazing things happen. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a situation where my actual life is required for the sake of someone else. I do know that every single day I need to love others with my whole heart. I want to be in such a habit of loving others at my own expense that if I ever do get into a situation where my life is required, I won’t think twice about laying it down. I am so far from this ideal right now. But every day, with God’s help, I want to get closer to that goal.
Here are just a few of the stories I’ve noticed that have sacrificial love as a main theme. I encourage you to look for this in the books that you read and in movies that you watch. And don’t just notice it. Live it.
Books: Enemy Brothers, The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Chronicles of Narnia, Sherlock Holmes, 100 Cupboards, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Cay
Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The End of the Spear, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hunger Games, The Nativity Story, Tangled, John Carter, The Avengers, Tron: Legacy, Thor