As the white, pink and red fill up the stores, as the chocolates get eaten from cardboard hearts, we as a society reflect on what we will give and what we will get. It’s the curse of consumerism. Yet in the midst of all the gifts, bribery, and advertising, there is a thread of true love. In the middle of all the pressure there is the inkling of what it truly means to give without receiving, to hope without expecting, to live with the threat of continual and everlasting embarrassment. This hint of what love truly is happens to be embodied in a character.
Let me explain…
Who in the whole world of fiction is the most romantic character?
Who embodies a pure selfless life?
Who fails time and time again… and yet gets up and still lives on?
Who carries the pain of ridicule and yet searches onward?
Which fictional character do most people see themselves as and yet cannot obtain the virtues that this character has?
Who is this mystery person?
This ‘lovable loser’ is the football flying, baseball losing, kite destroying Charlie Brown.
In all the years of his story, as told by Charles Schulz, he never kicked that football, never won a baseball game, never asked the red-headed girl out, only received rocks on Halloween, and as far as we know never succeeded in any of the dreams he held dear. Yet he kept trying! He gave his all in his attempts, and never ever gave up.
Charlie Brown stubbornly refused to give in even when all is lost from the outset; like every single Valentine’s day, he faced the fear of an empty mailbox or when he stood on the pitcher’s mound alone on the baseball field, not even letting a torrential downpour and eventual flood interrupt his beloved game.
That’s the most romantic thing a person could ever do – continually attempt a dream that appears hopeless. It is romance to continually strive after an ideal even if it is never obtained – to never lose hope, to have a dream deferred but never destroyed – to put off the self for something greater.
Hopelessness and acedia are the Grendel and Grendel’s mother of our generation, and Charlie Brown is today’s Beowulf.
Why does this character show true love? Because it is a reflection of the same love Jesus shows us.
Philippians 2: 5-8 says:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
So Jesus became a man (and to do that was first a helpless baby dependent on others for food, diaper changes and other essentials). After that He died for the whole of humanity in the most painful and humiliating way possible, fully knowing that people have free will and may choose to reject that gift of salvation.
True love is shown in humility and requires humility. And as Dr. Bruce Shelly stated “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God…”
The God of the universe died (and was resurrected!) despite the pain, rejection of his closest friends right before He was crucified, and eternal rejection by others throughout history.
This is the same love that God told Hosea to show to Gomer in the Old Testament book Hosea.
So as we reflect on this day of hearts, remember the heart of God dimly reflected in a cartoon character that shows us what true romance is.
A form of this article first appeared on Ben’s personal blog: https://windmillfighter.wordpress.com/