Why Les Misérables Should Shape Your 2013
For as long as I can remember, my family has gone to see a movie on Christmas day. Normally we debate on which film to see, but this year, it was unanimous - Les Misérables.
Despite Russell Crowe’s subpar vocal abilities, I loved the film. But as it ended and lights went up, I was taken aback by just how many people were crying in the theatre. It was something I’d never seen before.
A few days later, this video hit the internet of a young man filming his parents in the car on their way home after the film.
The best line in this video comes at the very end. “We’ve been to funerals of family members and haven’t cried like this.”
Why does Les Misérables elicit such powerful emotions in people?
I believe people are moved by Les Misérables because it taps into something deep within the human narrative.
That “something” is the story of a loving God at work in the lives of ordinary people.
The Bishop is the moral force who kicks everything into motion. In a revolutionary act of grace, he forgives and blesses Jean Valjean, a cast-away convict, after Valjean robs the church.
This simple act of love sets off a ripple effect. Valjean is now on a mission. The love of God burns through him as he provides dignity in death for a prostitute, Fantine. He rescues Cosette from slavery, offers grace to his archenemy, Javert, and saves Marius from battle so Valjean can bless the marriage of his only daughter to a student revolutionary.
So why do we cry during this story? We cry because it inspires all of us to live better lives.
Les Misérables reveals how ordinary people, infused by the scandalous grace of God, have the ability to make great change in the world.
While in the backdrop of Les Misérables are large scale issues of poverty and political revolution, the soul of the story centers on how one act of kindness can affect the lives of thousands of people. Les Miserables proves that the ripple effect is real.
Of course it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Les Misérables also depicts the deep spiritual reality of struggle and turmoil. Despite his altruism, Jean Valjean continues to be hunted while shamefully hiding his past from his daughter. Ultimately, he only finds rest in death.
So when you see Les Misérables, and you probably already have, separate yourself from the narrative. Don’t just hum the songs - live the story.
in 2013, we should aspire not to be the protagonist Jean Valjean. We should aspire to be the Bishop. Be the soul of your community this year. Offer grace to people who don’t deserve it, forgive others, and rescue people from their darkest places. It is there where God will meet you and the ripple effect begins.