The plot of the recently released film 1917 is intriguing (Though I haven’t seen nor am I endorsing the movie). A large contingent of British troops are poised to run headlong into an ambush that will claim most, if not all, of their lives.
Two men are tasked with warning the endangered soldiers. The messengers are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to see that their allies are delivered from certain death.
This is a story of true love quite different from our typical February flavor of romance which admonishes us to discover our true love and demonstrate our affection for them.
Selfless sacrifice for the sake of another elevates the meaning of love far above our myopic, self-indulgent preoccupation with Cupid, candy hearts and chocolates. Because each of us innately longs to know true love, stories like 1917 stir something deep within by giving us hope that we might be able to both experience and then express a love that is personal and powerful.
God is the ultimate source of true love. “This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” (1 John 3:16a) Christ’s sacrifice “for us” means in our place, for our sins. Humans are not “basically good” but naturally rebellious. We are destined for destruction like the uninformed troops in 1917. “There is none righteous, no not one… the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:10; 6:23) Out of true love, God offered up His sinless Son, placing upon Him all of our decadence. All who receive God’s love are delivered from destruction and empowered to demonstrate it to others.
The undeserving (Jesus) died so that guilty humans could live. God made a way for wicked humans to be made whole and right with Him through the self-sacrificing love of Christ.
A love revealed must still be received. The messengers in 1917 could not make those they informed accept their warning. To receive God’s love each of us must personally turn from our rebellion and trust in Christ. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
True love received empowers us to relate that love by sacrificing our comfort, convenience, plans and priorities to serve and seek the well-being of our friends, neighbors, siblings, spouses, parents, and co-workers. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
True love is experienced and expressed through faith in Christ, who exemplified it.