December 19, 2011

Oh the joys of a family Christmas.

Let’s face it, Christmas is about family and family can be frustrating. Most of us don’t have the Norman Rockwell portrait family. You probably have your fair share of family issues and challenging family members. You might actually be the challenging family member!

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Christmas Vacation. In his comedic genius Chevy Chase plays the role of Clark W. Griswold. How can you not relate to the family quirks that he endures? The yuppie neighbors, the uptight in-laws, and of course you can’t forget Uncle Eddie.

You can’t help but applaud Clark for his effort. He has in his mind the perfect family Christmas the only problem is… no family is perfect!

The movie not only makes light of family time during the Christmas season, it sheds light into the struggles of everyday human interaction. Everyone has ideals, their vision for what something should look like. Often though we are let down because we are relying on imperfect people to fulfill our ‘perfect’ vision.

With this in mind it is important to keep our dreams in proper perspective. The type of person we are going to marry, the type of job we will land, how our kids will behave and what they will become when they are grown. Often we place the burden of heavy expectations on ourselves and the people around us.

If we are easily let down we have to ask ourselves if we are being realistic in our expectations.

I love the end of Christmas Vacation when Uncle Eddie retrieves Clark’s greedy boss. Eddie is enough to drive any person crazy, but this holiday house guest really does have a ‘heart bigger than his brain’. When Eddie drives off in the Winnebago and returns bearing Clark’s Chrismtas gift you get to see an example of his redeeming quality. He may not be smart or socially aware, but he will come to your defense.

Uncle Eddie

Everyone has redeeming qualities. Focusing on the negative aspects of others, including your family, will cause you to be self righteous and arrogant. What about you? What if people took you for your shortcomings and didn’t look at the good you have to offer.

Paul writes to the Philippians in Chapter 2 about imitating the humility of Christ. He goes on to say, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

Hard to do with someone like Uncle Eddie, but then again we are often hard to love ourselves. This principle Paul mentions is hard to practice but if we truly want to imitate Christ it is a behavior that must be paramount.

Honestly in the movie I am surprised Clark lasted as long as he did before having a mental breakdown. Everyone has a breaking point. That is why we must rely on Christ for our strength. We can’t love people perfectly, but God can. If we rely on Him for our strength He will open the eyes of our heart to see people as He does.

And when He does this the significance of the cross and His sacrifice becomes more apparent.

Enjoy this season and serve your family (as hard as it might be at times) with the love of Christ. And remember that Jesus chose disciples, ordinary men, like you and me. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect… but He does expect us to rely on Him.

Merry Christmas to you and your family in Jesus name!

– Article contributed by Matt Cote, Director of Marketing and Operations of the Master’s Men ministry.