I recently had the distinct pleasure of attending Les Miserables with my wife (the movie, not the musical...we've seen that before too). It was POWERFUL and very well done, in my opinion. In fact, I shared with others that it was, by far, the most impactful movie I've ever seen.
One of the reasons I thought it was so powerful was the ongoing struggle between Jean Valjean, an 'ex-convict' who is trying to be a new man and live a new life, and Inspector Javert, the police officer who's life goal seems to be to make people like Valjean PAY for their 'crimes'...forever.
Valjean has an unexpected experience of grace and mercy soon after he's released from prison, and is given a new lease on life. He tries his best to learn the lessons of his past and take those lessons into this new life, but Inspector Javert continues to hunt him down to make him pay. After all...once a criminal, always a criminal!
That theme...law vs. grace...is (of course) one of the most important themes in the Bible. Of course, we know that God gave the Law to the people of Israel, but that they couldn't keep it. They needed mercy, but they didn't 'deserve' it!
Neither do we!
Yet, in spite of that God sent His son to earth to pay for their sin (and ours). He offered us grace, mercy, and a new start.
As my favorite verses (which changed my life) say, "It is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith. This is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not a result of your good works, so no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So...why is it so hard to accept?
Some of us 'get' grace at the moment of salvation, and we accept it and celebrate it...but we keep trying to go back to the Law! We keep trying to do the good works so that we 'deserve' God's mercy and this new life of faith.
We also (like Inspector Javert) try to make other people 'earn' our love and acceptance. Even our own families can end up getting the message they they have to 'earn' our love/appreciation/trust, etc.
Grace is a tough thing to fully grasp. In this world's economy, it does not make sense.
Fortunately, God is not limited by this world's economy. The 'economy' of grace is revolutionary...and will change us at our core, if we let it 'sink in'.
The Lord wants to give us 'New LIFE', and Life...to the Full! (John 10:10)
It is NEVER--not now, not ever--earned by us, but is totally based on the grace of God and the finished work of Jesus Christ!
Accept it, love it, soak in it, and REVEL in it!
New Life--it can be yours! Share it with others!
As Jean Valjean asks, "I am reaching out, is there another way to go?"
We all long to be assured that there IS another way--a way of grace! Let us live it, and share it.
It just might change YOUR life...and others!