Aug 31, 2013

It is for freedom... the Law versus Grace.

Who is this man? What sort of devil is he? To have me caught in a trap and choose to let me go free?
It was his hour at last/ To put a seal on my fate/ Wipe out the past/ And wash me clean off the slate!
All it would take/ Was a flick of his knife/ Vengeance was his/ And he gave me back my life!
Damned if I'll live in the debt of a thief! Damned if I'll yield at the end of the chase.
I am the Law and the Law is not mocked/ I'll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share/ It is either Valjean or Javert!
How can I now allow this man/ To hold dominion over me?
This desperate man whom I have hunted/ He gave me my life, he gave me freedom.
I should have perished by his hand! It was his right.
It was my right to die as well/ Instead I live, but live in hell!
And my thoughts fly apart/ Can this man be believed?
Shall his sins be forgiven? Shall his crimes be reprieved?
And must I now begin to doubt/ Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles/ The world I have known is lost in shadow.
Is he from heaven or from hell? And does he know/ That granting me my life today
This man has killed me even so? I am reaching, but I fall/ And the stars are black and cold.
As I stare into the void/ Of a world that cannot hold
I'll escape now from the world/ From the world of Jean Valjean
There is nowhere I can turn/ There is no way to go on..... {and he commits suicide}

Today's song I chose is not a worship song, but rather a song from one of my favorite movies.  If you haven't seen the play or movie "Les Miserables", I strongly encourage you to watch it, it is a beautiful story of redemption and the power of Love. {Warning: spoiler alert! If you don't want to know the end of the story, don't read any farther!}

The song above is being sung by the antagonist in the story, a police officer named Javert, who represents the "Law" in this beautiful allegory of redemption.  He spends the movie chasing after a "criminal" (the protagonist) named Jean Valjean, who had been set free early in the story and then had a "come to Jesus" moment and completely changed his life.  Javert was a guard when Jean Valjean was in prison and dogged his steps even after he was free and had started a new life, reminding him that he would never be anything other than "Prisoner 24601", a criminal and never anything better.

Regardless of Javert's strong sense of justice and a confidence that being the "law" is his calling, Jean Valjean continues to live a good life, a life represented by the love, grace and forgiveness that he was given early on in the story.  This song happens very close to the end of the story, after Jean Valjean had for the second time given grace and mercy to Javert, refusing to kill him when given the chance, instead setting him free. 

This particular storyline within Les Miserables (which is the main story arch) is a story of redemption straight out of Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

I am touched by stories of redemption, because I am a person who is in desperate need for redemption, and have received my freedom from Christ, as a new creation.  This story reminds me how even after we have been redeemed, saved and forgiven by God, we are still haunted by who we once were by the "law".  

It may come as a small inner voice telling you that you will never be good enough to deserve that grace.  It may come as an "other" voice, the voice of the Accuser, reminding you of how you are shameful and will always deserve to be in a small cell away from other people.   It may come in the voice of another person, reminding you of how you've failed, someone who may love you, but is stuck in the "law" and can't allow you to live like you are free when you are clearly still a "criminal."

So what does all of this have to do with Javert's suicide song?  It's because the Law cannot co-exist with Grace.  Where Javert is the law personified and Jean Valjean is grace personified, the law cannot continue to exist in the face of grace.  God wants us to be holy, but holy through his Love.  The law is useless in the light of His grace and mercy.

Regardless of a life-time of trying to be "good enough", I can never be anything other than what I am.  A sinner who was redeemed.  An orphan adopted by God.  Someone with nothing to offer that was given the riches of eternal life and the Love of God.  Like Jean Valjean says to Javert when he sets him free, "You are wrong. And always have been wrong. I'm a man, no worse than any man. You are free, and there are no conditions. No bargains or petitions. There is nothing that I blame you for. You have done your duty, nothing more." 

The accuser cannot accuse us and put us back in the prison of our sin unless we let him.  It will not do to shake our fist at temptation or curl into a ball and hide from the voices mocking us, because that is not living in freedom.  That is not why Christ has set us free!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1
So what? 
"So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God...But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit." Rom 7:4,6
Though I cried when Javert died in the movie, I didn't cry because it was sad to see him die, I cried because I realized that I was allowing the accuser to continue to make me live in fear.  As I watched Javert commit suicide, I realized that I am truly free from the law that tells me that I am a criminal that can never be anything else.    I am redeemed today.  I was redeemed yesterday.  I will be redeemed tomorrow.  What is there to fear?  The law has no power over me, because I can now serve God.

Not out of fear, but out of Love. I will live and love today as a free, and fully redeemed child of the most high King!

So what about you?  Are you hiding from the accuser or standing firm against him? 
Lord, I praise you because of your redeeming Love.  I praise you for forgiving our sins and dying so that we may be free from the bondage of sin and shame.  I pray that you release each person who still needs your help to be free to live a full life free from shame and condemnation.  I praise you that the law is dead because of the power of the cross.  In Your name, Amen.
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