If you haven’t seen Les Miserables yet, you really must. The performances are amazing, and I have no doubt that there will be more than one Oscar awarded for the film.
What struck me most while watching the movie was how powerful the story of redemption showed through. Jean Valjean is a convicted thief, and when we first see him the officer Javert is telling him what a failure he is, and how a criminal will always be a criminal. Javert’s world view has no room for redemption or people who can change.
Sure enough, we see Jean Valjean stealing silver from a priest who was kind enough to take him in. The next morning, when the police have caught Jean Valjean and brought him back to the priest, the priest says that he gave the silver to Valjean.
This one act of kindness changes Valjean’s life. He becomes a new man, both internally and externally. It is a powerful example of how one person’s act of love can forever change a person.
Unfortunately for Valjean, he keeps running into Javert, the police officer. Javert can only think of Valjean as what he was, not what he is. The rest of the movie we see Valjean and Javert as they interact. One thing remains the same, Javert cannot, or will not, see that Jean Valjean is a new man. Valjean’s past will always be his present in the eyes of Javert.
Like Valjean, I have a past. Oh, I never spent time in prison for stealing, but I have certainly done wrong. I have sinned, and unfortunately continue to sin every day. The Javert’s of the world would still hold my past against me, but thankfully, I answer to someone who forgives.
A long time ago God sent his only son to live and die for people like Jean Valjean, and you and me. He died on a cross because that’s how the Javert’s of the world chose to exact their punishment. They couldn’t see past their own hatred, bigotry and selfish ambition to see that Jesus wanted nothing more than to save them.
Once our lives encounter Jesus, we are brand new people. We are free from our past. Jesus said, ““I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:34-36)
What Javert and people like him don’t realize is that God is the great changer of people. No matter what your past, god can change you for the better. No matter how hurt you have been, or how unforgivable you think your past may be, God can change you. “17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
So, are you Javert or Valjean? Are you a Javert, so stuck in your thinking that you absolutely cannot see how your life or anyone else’s can change? Or are you Valjean, who has felt the change that only Christ can bring you? Your life doesn’t have to be stuck in the past, it can be better. If you need more information, drop me a line. I promise not to go Javert on you!
Looking for changed lives… Jerry