Lesson: Les Miserables 4--The Calling of Our Times

Story by Victor Hugo

 The year was 1832.  With the exception of General Larmarque, the aristocrats ruling France were not caring about the poor.  People were angry.  The students were hoping to do something to get the government to pay attention.  One of the students, Marius, just met a girl called Cosette and he fell in love.  Here's the scene at the cafe where the students had gathered...

What was Marius struggling with?
- Pursuing that mysterious girl (Cosette) vs. joining his friends to fight for the people

If you were Marius, which one would you pick?  Why?
- One additional man probably won't matter that much
- Marius wanted his life to mean something, not just living as a single person

Tiananmen Square: The year was 1989, just 11 years ago.  This is right before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.  Some college students in Beijing began a demonstration in Tiananmen Square to demand the Chinese communist government to fight corruption, allow democracy and allow more freedom.  Some of them refused to eat until they fainted.  People from around the country came to support the students.  The protest got bigger and bigger.  The government talked with the students briefly but refused to do what they demanded.  They sent soldiers in but those soldiers supported the students.  They finally called in troops from southern China and on the night of June 3, the troops went in and began killing the demonstrators.  The killing continued through June 4 and hence it's called the June Fourth Tiananmen Square Massacre.  As many as 3,000 people may have died.  Hundreds of people were arrested in the months that followed, and some were executed.  Some student leaders escaped to Hong Kong and went to France, the U.S., or some other countries.  Some are still in jail inside China.

The students knew the government could be tough, but maybe they didn't imagine the "People's Army" would fire at the People...

Did the students know that protesting against the communist government can be dangerous?  Why would they still protest and take risks?  In China if you are ever labeled as a "counter-revolutionary," you can kiss your future good-bye.

It's always safer to be an "ordinary" person rather than a "revolutionary."  Since you have only one life, would you choose the more dangerous path?
- they want to do something for the whole country and their future generations, not just for themselves

What's wrong with being just an ordinary person?
- Your life may be safe, but it also would be almost meaningless.

Does Jesus call us to be ordinary people?
- No, he calls us to be the salt and light of the world--to show the world what's right, to fight for justice, and to make it better.  These are no ordinary jobs.

What are the calling of our times?
- Bring the Gospel to those places still not fully open
- Bring social justice--fight what's wrong with the world today.  Thousands of people are killed or handicapped by land mines each year, often many years after the world ended.
- Help the real poor--did you know millions of kids wouldn't have to die each year if we just build water wells in their villages?  There are 100,000 orphans in Romania alone.  What can you do about these things?  If you have the chance are you willing to do something, even if it means doing something dangerous or giving up on some pleasures in your lives?

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 6/24/2000