True Love

Read 1 Corinthians 13

“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)

There are plenty of films that try to capture the emotional reality of true love; seldom do they ever truly succeed. When it comes to true love, we Western humans cannot think past a good friendship or a steamy love affair. That is simply how we are wired to think because that is what we are told true love is all about. Frozen was one of the films that caught a glimpse of true love; however, even there, it was bogged down by the fact that the love came between two sisters who actually cared for each other. That love is not hard to imagine.

What still of a love that is for someone or, in this case, something that has tried to destroy you. That kind of love is of the AGAPE kind, the kind we learn and sing about in church, the kind that our Scripture passage is on today, though we sadly often relegate this passage to weddings and nothing else. This is sad, because weddings were the very last thing on the Apostle Paul’s mind when he wrote those words.

In the hit 90s/2000s show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy follows Angel outside following his return from. It is here that she learns he is about to wait for the sun to rise in order to die. For those not familiar with the show, Angel (or Angelus) was a most evil vampire who delighted in torturing, maiming and destroying people prior to killing them. For Angelus, the hunt was a giant cat and mouse game.

In Season 2 of the show, we learn that Angelus’ soul was restored by gypsies so that he would be tortured by the memory of all the lives he had destroyed. The only thing that would cause him to loose his soul again is if the spell failed to work, even for a moment. Well, needless to say, Buffy and Angel got romantically involved and ended up making love. In that moment of happiness, his soul was lost and he became Angelus again.

I don’t need to say this, because it is obvious, but Angelus begins to hunt Buffy, playing cat and mouse with her, hurting her loved ones, killing her watcher’s girlfriend, and raising hell just about everwhere. He literally seeks to destroy her by destroying and dividing everyone around her, and finally Buffy realized she needed to kill him; however, right before she did his soul was returned to him as Buffy’s friend Willow and her watcher recast the spell to put the curse back on him.

Still, Buffy did kill him to close the portal to hell that he had opened. The only way to close the portal was to offer the blood of the one who opened it and so, tragically, Buffy had to kill him even though she knew her Angel was back. This was a harrowing moment, but in Season 3 we find that Angel has been returned back to this world. No one is sure how or why, not even Angel, but upon his return he realized that the world would be better, safer even, with him gone.

Of course, there are a lot of details I am skipping over, but this brings us back to the scene I started out with above. Buffy follows Angel outside and discovers he’s about to kill himself via the light of dawn, and she is pleading with him not to do it. Angel is insistent and they even get violent with each other as Angel tries to push her away so that he can carry out his plan. He yells at her about how he can remember EVERY victim, every single way they died, every horrible thing he did to them and he has come to realization that he does not deserve Buffy’s love let alone to live.

After Buffy smacked him to knock sense into him, Angel hit her back and then grabbed her shouting, “Am I worth saving, huh? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone!”

Buffy tearfully responded, “But what about me? I love you so much. I tried to make you go away. I killed you and it didn’t help. And I hate it. I hate that it’s so hard and that you can hurt me so much. I know everything you did because you did it to me. God, I wish that I wished you dead. I don’t.” Pausing, Buffy whispered, “I can’t.

The fact is Buffy and Angel would never get the romance they once had back. That was over. Yes, they loved each other, but given the circumstances, their love could NEVER be eros again. Instead, this deep-seeded love must grow into agape love, where they care for each other in the most deepest and purest of senses. Their love is sacrificial, sanctified, holy and true. That’s right, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, captured the essence of selfless, true love. Buffy teaches us what Paul meant in his chapter on love. And this love, this selfless, sacrificial love will always conquer evil, sin and death. Why did Angel return from the grave with his soul, becaue he was consumed by TRUE LOVE, which cannot exist apart from God. He had been given a second, second chance and Buffy loved him too much to let him throw that away, even though his presence would continue to torment her because she can never be with him.

Friends, we are called to live such lives of love because that is what Christ calls us to. We are not to be consumed by the world or the way the world does things; rather, our response is to be TRUE AGAPE, TRUE LOVE. That means we are to be patient, kind, non-jealous, peaceful, humble, respectful, well-mannered, non-judgmental, just, merciful and truthful people. We aren’t to rejoice at wrongdoing, nor are we to rejoice at punishment; rather, we should be seeking reconciliation between all people, their communities, and God…just as Buffy did with Angel. Let us follow suit with Buffy and be a people of true love.

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” – Buffy Summers

Lord, help me to live in this world as you did. Help me to be an agent of true love. Amen.

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