My experience with Les Miserables: facing my Christian atheism

(I’m a little late posting this…but better late than never!)

Oh, Les Mis!  How you make me love Jesus more!

My heart is full right now.  On December 31st, 2012 at 3:15 PM, I had a date with my husband to see a movie I’d highly anticipated – Les Miserables.  I have not read the book or seen the show, but I have seen the Liam Neeson movie and I’ve listened to the original broadway cast recording many…MANY times.

I’m trying to get this written as close to the day that I saw the movie so that I can accurately write all that I was feeling during and after watching this movie.  It moved me to tears on various occasions.

For those of you who don’t know, Les Miserables is about a man named Jean Valjean who is released from prison and then robs a priest.  This priest, having the opportunity to accuse him and press charges, denies that he was robbed and gives him additional priceless items from his home to make a new life for himself and live his life for God.  Valjean then, in turn, shows the same grace to a prostitute who is dying and needs someone to take care of her daughter and then raises her as his own.  Not only is the grace he receives “amazing”, but also generously demonstrates an outpouring of love toward this child.

As far as stories are concerned, this has been attributed as one of the most clear metaphors of God’s grace.  A man, truly undeserving, who has only earned distrust and disrespect and punishment, receives a priceless gift.  It’s a fictional story, but Grace still does amazing things!  Love accomplishes what the Law could not.

This brings me to my personal journey of experiencing God’s love.  Something that I’ve always struggled with as a Christian is truly believing God loves me.  This, I’ve recently come to realize, is actually a belief in no God at all.  How can I believe a God would design this world so beautiful, so complex, so all-together magnificent, and would not have the power, will, or capacity to love me?  His breathtaking beauty explains His loving character as much as it does His righteous judgment.

Sometimes I just forget.  I forget the supernaturally loving and sacrificing nature of Jesus in these moments when I slip in and out of this Christian atheism.  I forget the man who healed the blind, made the lame man walk, spared the life of the woman in adultery, fed the 5,000, the 4,000, loved the children, touched the leper, defended the oppressed, befriended the tax-collector, resurrected the dead, wept for the suffering – it’s those times between His birth and death and resurrection that give power and credibility to those landmark events.  Oh, GRACE!  Not one of those who received those wonderful gifts while He was on earth deserved a drop of it.  Neither do we.  Nor do I.

He LOVES me so much!  Let me say that again.  He LOVES me so much!  Because of this love I’m found worthy, accepted, cherished, delighted in by my Creator.  He is Real.