For many, Twilight is less about a time of day and more about vampires. From Dracula to Bella Swan, millions are fascinated with vampires. We are drawn to zombies too for that matter.
Indeed, we are captivated by bloodsuckers.
According to The-Numbers.com, a website that follows the movie industry, Twilight movies grossed over 3 billion dollars world wide (http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Twilight).
Domestic box office receipts tallied over 1 billion alone. Yes, you read that right! Over 3 billion dollars globally; over 1 billion domestically.
This make me wonder . . .
Why are vampires and movies about vampires – such as Twilight – so popular?
Texas Tech professor, Erin Collopy, suggests a reason when she says,
“I think the reason vampires are so popular is because they are such an effective metaphor for our own anxieties and desires. We often try to work things out about ourselves through them.”¹
A “metaphor for our own anxieties and desires?” Perhaps.
Another reason, however, for the popularity of vampires and vampire movies such as Twilight might actually be The Gospel.
Yes! The Gospel.
The Gospel is, historically speaking, the four chapter story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.
Mike Metzger of Clapham Institute describes the four-chapter Gospel as the behavioral baseline accounting for all of human behavior.
- Ought (Creation) – Life as it ‘ought’ to be experienced.
- Is (Fall) – Life as it ‘is’ experienced.
- Can (Redemption) – Life as it ‘can’ be experienced (what’s possible).
- Will (Restoration) – Life as it one day ‘will’ be experienced.
You can read more about this in Metzger’s own words (see his thought-provoking blog here, http://www.doggieheadtilt.com/). In other words: the Gospel is God’s story describing all of reality, including why vampires are so popular.
Twilight is popular because it gets part of the four-chapter Gospel right. Specifically, it reflects how:
- Life is in the blood.
- Renewed blood is required for eternal life.
LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD
Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
The medical community gets it.
American Red Cross has stored a vast reservoirs of blood because of it.
Anyone who has ever suffered serious injury, resulting in the loss of vast amounts of blood, has experienced how true this verse is.
Vampires also get it.
Consider, for example, a blood transfusion. A blood transfusion, in simple terms, is the injection of blood from one person or animal into the blood stream of another person.
In severe cases of blood loss, this becomes one’s last hope!
Life is in the blood.
You may remember the story of Bethany Hamilton. In 2003 she was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark. The shark took her left arm. She lost 50% of her blood.
This typically leads to death.
Bethany received a blood transfusion. She survived and has lived to thrive (her story can be found here, http://bethanyhamilton.com/profile/).
Life is in the blood.
RENEWED BLOOD IS REQUIRED TO BRING ETERNAL LIFE
A second reality is that renewed blood is required for eternal life.
Vampires, though essentially dead, live forever as long as they feed on blood.
For the vampire, blood is required to bring eternal life.
Hmm . . . this sounds like the Gospel.
In Ephesians 1:7 we read,
“In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”
Renewed blood is required to bring eternal life!
Vampires get this. At least partially.
Vampires require new blood to live. In other words, vampires require a new human (or animal) sacrifice for their life to continue. Others must always die for them to live forever.
This is the point at which the vampire story parts company with the Gospel. Or, better, this is the point at which the Gospel story offers a fuller, more meaningful picture of life.
The four-chapter Gospel illuminates God’s love; shedding light on His grace. It reveals a God who is neither capricious nor confusing. A God who establishes and works within reality as we know it!
What reality? That,
Life is in the blood! Blood is required to bring eternal life!
How is the Gospel narrative different and more enriching?
The blood sacrifice required for us to taste eternal life has been offered once and for all through the person and work of the Messiah.
Take, for example, John 6:54 where Jesus says, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
While some interpret this text to be a reference to communion, it’s more likely that Jesus is simply using a physical reality (eating and drinking) to illustrate a spiritual truth.
In this passage, he uses what we know to reveal the truth about Himself. “Trust me,” he says. Then he merges the ancient truths movies like Twilight get right – partially so, at least.
Life is in the blood. Eternal life is in the blood of Christ.
It’s a finished work.
A completed work.
The Gospel merges these two realities! In the blood of Christ we find life and we find life eternal!
We don’t require (as do vampires) new blood sacrifices for our existence!
We do however experience the act of renewal each time we participate in the sacraments, specifically the Table of the Lord.
When we approach the table of the Lord we do so as they who were dead and as they who have received new life in the blood of Christ.
We are renewed through the symbolism of this sacrament! We are renewed as a people who experience these two truths at the deepest levels of joy and contentment!
Indeed, we taste the Gospel truth Twilight attempts to reveal,
Life is in the blood.
Blood is required for eternal life!
THE GOSPEL SHEDS LIGHT ON ALL ELSE WE DO
The Gospel sheds light on this truth in our day to day experience.
Think about the last enjoyable meal you ate.
Do you remember it?
I do. I had chicken tacos. One of our family favorites.
That meal -as does every meal – brought me life.
An animal (a chicken in this case) had to bleed so that I might experience life and health.
Life is in the blood.
In my family we have grown accustom to saying a blessing at our meals that goes something like this,
“We thank you, Lord, for the meal we are about to eat. We acknowledge the sacrifice which makes this meal possible and the hope of life this sacrifice provides. Amen”
This Life is in the blood teaching that Twilight illustrates and the Gospel fully frames illuminates all areas of our existence!
Why does this matter?
Who really cares?
Because the four chapter Gospel sheds light on everything else. The four chapter Gospel is present – in part – in nearly every sector of our culture and community. It is, however, often overlooked or ignored by many people of faith.
C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This is the type of Christian our culture needs these days: a four chapter believer!
I find there are three types of Christians (believers) that are – generally speaking – not very helpful in terms of the Gospel’s engagement with our culture!
- The Shun Everything Christian. This is the Christian who ‘shuns’ everything and isolates themselves from every sector of our society. You know, the ones who say, “You saw that movie? It’s about vampires, how could you?’
- The Control Everything (win at all cost) Christian. The Christian who ‘rails’ against everything in our culture and attempts to ‘Christianize’ every sector of society. These are the ones who attempt to control our culture by creating a Christian sub culture of books, magazines, programs and music. I agree with Shane Blackshear words, “Being a Christian means neither acquiescing to culture nor demanding that it fall in line with your beliefs.”
- The Hook, Line and Sinker Christian. The Christian who partakes of anything this culture offers hook, line and sinker. These are those who lack discernment. They go see movies like Twilight and love it without critique or thought provoking reflection.
My hope, in my ministry at Pillar Community Church, is to nurture a fourth type of Christian. I call this Christian/believer the ‘Christian as Cultivator.’
That’s the believer who seeks to bring God’s good for His glory to our cultural surroundings.
The believer who doesn’t have to withdraw, win or give in, but who engages our culture with the vital language of the four chapter life-giving Gospel story.
The Christian as Cultivator understands why Twilight is so popular.
Life is in the blood.
Renewed blood is required for eternal life.
The Christian as Cultivator says, “I get the vampire thing. They are the walking dead who require blood to live. We are very much the same way. The main difference is the sacrifice for our life – the blood which gives us life – was made by the Messiah.”
No other sacrifice is necessary.
Disrupting to Renew,