To love another person is to see the face of God.
One of the last phrases sung in the musical Les Miserables. Arcadia High School just gave an incredible performance of this show last weekend. I honestly expected to cringe a lot since the vocals in this production are challenging. However, I savored every note and soaked in the powerful message of the show. I cried on several scenes. This high school provides amazing theater. The costumes were incredible (especially since my daughter is head costumer). I expect to see a few of these kids on Broadway one day too.
If you haven’t seen the show, Pantages Theater has a run of it in May or you can watch the movie version of it with Hugh Jackman. Either way, you will capture the theme of this show – Grace!
(Spoiler alert) My favorite scene is near the beginning of the show. The priest gives Jean Valjean his silver candlesticks and tells him to give his life to God and begin a new life. I cry nearly every time. It’s the ultimate undeserved gift – aka grace. This priest trusts Jean Valjean to be a man of God and use this gift to make a difference in the world for God. And that he does.
Someone at the performance commented that this is a show about forgiveness. I disagree. Forgiveness is saying “I release you and myself from carrying the weight of ‘you wronged me’ anymore. I don’t condone what you did but I am not going to dwell on it any longer.” Grace is an undeserved gift. Is forgiveness a form of grace? Yes. However, grace is much bigger than forgiveness.
Grace allows someone to stay in relationship with you while they change and grow. Grace extends kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve an ounce of it. Grace is praying for your enemies. Grace is Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive us our debt that we could never pay. It’s sacrifice. It makes no sense. It’s humbling.
Les Miserables’ other main male role is Javert. He is the epitome of legalism. He’s a Pharisee. He can’t handle the grace Jean Valjean lives his life by. He is driven to death because of grace. He couldn’t understand how someone could be good when they deserved to be punished for their crimes. Both men loved God. However, Javert never learned to accept God’s grace. He knew the God of the Old Testament – black and white. The grace and fulfillment of the Old Testament is found in Jesus and the hope of the new covenant in the New Testament.
Where are you today? Living in grace or stuck in “he/she deserves it?” Be a Jean Valjean and spread grace wherever you are planted.
Dream Big! Pray Big!