There are some people on the planet who are capable of fixing their own cars – I am not one of them! That said, my passenger side low beam headlight went out this week and, not wanting to take it to the dealership, I went to a local auto parts store to buy a new one to install myself. After all, how difficult can it be? I can certainly change a lightbulb – the principle is the same. As I was contorting my hand to get the burnt bulb out, I noticed that the bulb went on. Maybe it wasn’t the bulb after all? But I was already committed so I bought a new bulb to install. Of course, the new bulb also flickered like the old one. There is something broken in the fixture, and while I have been able to put it back into the socket and it is now working, I am sure I am just a bump away from the new bulb going dark. It is never as easy as it seems, and all of the new bulbs in the world cannot fix the broken fixtures that hold them. Therein lies the applicable life wisdom.
In today’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus tells his listeners that they need to hate their families, pick up the cross, and give away their possessions in order to be his disciples. In many ways on face value it would seem that Jesus is the burnt out bulb here – how does this message shine any light on the challenges that each of us face every day? In reality, Jesus, the ultimate human mechanic, knows that it is not the bulb that needs to be changed, but the broken fixture. We look for joy in life going from the bright bulbs of family and possessions in order to experience the goodness of life. Jesus realizes however, that as broken fixtures ourselves, those good things will only flicker and never sustain the light they are created to bring unless we connect them first to the one thing in the created universe that is not broken – Him!
If you really want to enjoy your family, love Jesus first and foremost. If you really want to enjoy the goods of the earth, love Jesus first and foremost. He is the one perfectly whole component in our world through which all the rest can be best enjoyed. And yet, too often, we believe ourselves better mechanics. We know how to do this ourselves – after all, how hard can it be? After all, our lives shine on their own sometimes without him. But if we are ever to live into the full brightness of life that Jesus has in store for us, if we are ever to live beyond the duct taped way in which we are trying to hold it all together, we must place him first. Trust him as the true light, since he created us and knows how best to allow our lives to flourish. As it goes with most car mechanics, we can pay them now or pay them later. Enjoy more of life by aligning yourself with Christ first and see how he can transform all the broken and half lit components of our world.
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