For my final devotional in this series, I will examine a movie that I can watch hundreds of times each season. In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold wants nothing more than the perfect Christmas. He puts forth immense effort to get every detail right: the biggest tree, the brightest lights, and the happiest of holidays. What we witness is the unraveling of all his best laid plans. The tree is too big and ends up burning, when the lights finally work they are so bright it puts strain on the neighborhood power grid, the turkey is dry, unexpected guests come, there is fighting, and nothing seems to work the way Clark envisioned.
For me, I am reminded of this colloquial saying, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” While this is not the soundest theological proverb, it highlights something. Nothing you do will make God love you more. You and I are incapable of earning our own righteousness. We cannot earn our way into heaven no matter how much effort we put out. We may put on a great display with our outward actions or with our “perfect” family life, but we are just projecting. We display our best selves on social media so others can compare their real lives to our highlight reel. The reality is that none of that matters.
When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating our complete reliance on a baby. God, who is perfect and holy, set aside his power and position when He became flesh and dwelt among us. God came into our world as a helpless baby. Jesus relied on Mary and Joseph for food and shelter. God wanted to redeem his people and restore the relationship so much that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) We did not earn the right to be redeemed. As believers, Christ’s death on the cross covers all our sins past, present, and future. He will never love you more (or less) than He does right now. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Rom. 8:35)
Clark Griswold can be your reminder this Christmas that we can never measure up to God’s standard. For this reason, Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem. Reflecting on that can give you the happiest of holidays this year and every year.