There is a scene in the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) is ready to show off his creativity and hard put into decorating the house with thousands of lights. After the drum roll he plugs in his precious lights only to find….nothing. They refuse to shine. Completely devastated, works tirelessly into the night trying to fix them.
This scene brings out the real meaning of Christmas. The long, unfolding plot of human history as narrated in the Bible is really the ongoing saga of God and his flickering lights. Here’s the biblical story in Five Acts.
I. Created to shine. In the beginning the earth was dark and formless until God said, “Let there be light.” Then God created human beings in His image to shine and showcase his creative genius. Like Clark Griswald’s carefully decorated house, according to the Bible each person is fearfully and wonderfully made to glorify the Creator.
II. Unplugged by Sin. Adam and Eve were intimately connected with their Creator in those early days in Eden. But rebellion quickly turned the lights out on the party, as sin separated, or “unplugged”, us from the good life God designed us for in right relationship with him. The Bible says, “Having become darkened in their understanding they became separated—unplugged—from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts” (Eph 4:18).
III. Wrong sources. The next Act of the story describes a world full of people trying to find life and fulfillment from other sources. But as St. Augustine discovered himself and confessed to God, “Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee.” We are all made to shine, but only when connected to our Creator.
IV. Jesus: Master Electrician. God refuses to give up on his fragile light bulbs. Though burned out and frayed, God does not merely toss us into the trash. Like Clark Griswald, he takes the time to work on each bulb individually, doing his best to repair them. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Christmas is the celebration of God sending his own son, the Master Electrician, into a dark world to provide a way — a most costly way — for us all to “plug back into” the life of God. As Jesus himself says, “I am the light of the world; the one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
V. Living in the Light. As we are reconnected with God through Christ, we are enabled to live out our original call to be God’s image-bearers on earth. By the power, or “energy,” of the Spirit flowing through us, we “Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God” as we “Carry the light-giving Message into the night” (Phil 2:15). So, as you put up lights this year and grow impatient with those obnoxious flickering bulbs, let them remind us of the merciful love of God who came down to earth to repair us from the inside out so we could shine once more!
“You are the light of the world…Let your light shine before people so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:14-16).