CS Lewis once described himself as being ‘the most dejected, reluctant convert in all England’. His conversion was a struggle, and not unlike this epic scene in Les Miserables, or ‘less miserable’ as my daughter once called it. I like this scene, the way it depicts the gargantuan struggle within Jean Valjean. He has been offered grace and generosity by the bishop, and a challenge to now live that out and weave it through his life. Valjean wrestles with himself, will he change?
I once heard a friend say, ‘it costs you nothing to become a Christian, but everything to be one.’ The new start comes as a free gift. A clean slate. No charge. But then we discover we have begun a whole new way of being, and our old identity battles against that. It’s no easy option. No quick fix. Jesus didn’t pull his punches about this. He likened following him to being crucified. It was like the death penalty for our old way of life.
Jesus looked at Herod building his new massive temple, and likened starting this new life to a building programme which requires resources and energy. ‘Don’t start it lightly,’ he said, ‘before considering what’s involved.’ Mind you, he also said, ‘If you’re weighed down come to me, because the kind of burden I give you is not an unbearable one. It will refresh you.’