A Christmas Story - The Bell Rang

If you have seen the movie or the play A Christmas Story, you will remember the scene where Ralphie’s friend Schwartz unleashed the triple-dog dare on Flick on the playground. Flick couldn’t stand up to the pressure of such a lofty dare, despite the breach of etiquette, and licked the pole. He found himself stuck by his tongue to the pole on the cold playground. Then the bell rang. All the kids started running back to the school building. As Flick was pleading for them to come back, one of the friends asked, “What are you gonna do?” Ralphie just said, “I don’t know. The bell rang.” And he ran off to leave Flick stuck to the pole.

When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John, they immediately left what they were doing and followed him. Immediately. They didn’t hesitate. They dropped their work tools and immediately followed Jesus.

Later in his ministry, Jesus encountered three other guys. They came up with excuses to not follow Him despite making comments suggesting that they wanted to follow Him. They just wished following Him was a little more convenient. Jesus replied with three overstatements. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head…Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God… No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62 ESV). He spoke against security, waiting for the perfect situation, and looking back.

Those three had their “buts”, but what is your big “but”? It might be similar to the “buts” of those three men. Are you putting off doing what you know God wants until you are a little more secure in life, whether that is a job, home, or something else? You may be waiting for the finances to be just right in your life to start giving the way God wants you to. In this case, you think you are willing to follow God but His timing is just a little off. You assume, and wrongly so, that the perfect situation to follow Him and take spirituality seriously is something that you can do at some perfect point in the future. Maybe you would like to follow Him, but you just aren’t ready to give up the life that you are currently enjoying.

Your reasons may be completely different than those expressed by the three Jesus encountered. It could be your popularity. Following Jesus would probably cause that to dwindle as you would become a little freakish in almost all areas of your life. It could be the way you entertain yourself. Following Jesus usually does change that. Whatever your excuse is, big “buts” get in the way of us surrendering ourselves to Jesus and living His life in the here and now. Honestly, when we look in the spiritual mirror, we each have big “buts” that we wrestle with. Some bigger than others, but each one is something that needs to be done away with if we are going to have the spiritual body God wants us to have.

The problem is that we cannot be the people that God wants us to be because we don’t have the surrendered heart of the early church. Check out that church in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37 to get a glimpse of how Christians living together the way God intended can really impact their lives and the lives of those around them. When it comes down to it, we aren’t really followers of Jesus; we’re just fans. We like Jesus, but we aren’t ready to surrender our whole life to Him.

We must ask ourselves, “Are we only a fan of Jesus?” He asks for total surrender; he asks for us to immediately follow him; he asks for us to carry our cross, but are we just fans?

Ralphie struggled with indecision. Ralphie said, “I don’t know. The bell rang.” He knew that he should help Flick, but he was stuck in the routine of going back in when the bell rang. His indecision was a decision; indecision is always a decision.

The decision that God wants us to make is to immediately follow Jesus, no matter what the cost. No matter how crazy it seems. Not tomorrow. Today.  Immediately.

What change do you need to make? What thought do you need to wrestle with and discard? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to love?

God is in the “now” business. So often we live in the past or the future; however, God wants us to be living the life He designed us to live right now. Living the way He wants us to right now is the only way we can insure that we will be where He wants us to be in the future.

Living in God’s will daily is like having a baby. This time of year we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, God coming from heaven and becoming flesh to save the world. But there is the human side of it. For Jesus to come into the world, Mary had to deliver him. I don't know if you have ever had a baby or seen a woman in labor, but when the time is now, it's now.

The time for us to be who God wants us to be is now.