Set on the noir streets of Paris we are introduced to a self loathed small time criminal that can't pay his debts back. What does he need? A helping hand! So an Angel falls from the sky and helps him out. But there is a twist, this Angel and man called Andre fall in love and we are taken on an adventure of self discovery and the complex emotions of love.
The biggest theme I picked up on was that of Andre and his idea of love. Angela (the Angel) confronts him and places him in front of a mirror and tells Andre to say "I love you" to himself. The idea behind this is that he cannot love others unless he is first loved and she points the finger back to him and suggests that he needs to start loving himself before he can love others. This caught my attention and made me ask two questions:
1. How much truth is there behind the idea of self love and loving others?
2. What does the Gospel say to this?
Some of my thoughts about self love were a mixture of understanding where they were coming from and not being quite satisfied with that. But perhaps it is indeed true that if we hate ourselves and see ourselves completely unworthy of love, then loving others will perhaps prove difficult. It is also very true that we cannot love others unless we ourselves are loved. But I want to move the picture further on and say that self love will never satisfy nor complete us, that the story can never end at self love or we will swing between the emotional roller coaster of love and loathing ourselves, between pride and pity.
This idea of love must come under Gods love in order to be fully satisfying and complete. We are wonderfully told in scripture the truth that we can indeed love because we were first loved:
"We love because he first loved us. "
(1 John 4:19 ESV)
Here is where the pin drops. The true colours of love are displayed here with the richness of this verse. Yes we cannot love if we are not ourselves loved first. But for ourselves to be loved it cannot be about looking within ourselves and lavishing ourselves with our own love. No, it must come from outside ourselves - from the perfect creator that is Love, that lavishes his love on us that is pure and selfless, our God who enables us to love because he loved us first. This is what Andre needed to hear, he didn't need to shout at his reflection that he loves himself - in fact he loves himself too much. But he needed to hear that he is loved and its not from within but it is from our Heavenly Father.
Is this not a message we all need to hear? A message that students need to hear on university campus as they struggle with loneliness in their halls or trying to fit in on sports socials? Is this not a message for staff workers who may be struggling with approval, or stay at home mums who may feel disconnected with the world or the teenage girl who is struggling with image... there are many situations where we need to not look in the mirror and say "I love you", but where we need to hear our heavenly Father say "I loved you first"...