“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” -John 8:36
A friend recently told me they had never seen the movie A Christmas Story.
“What?!” I exclaimed. “Well, you need to fix that this year.”
“Isn’t it just a movie about a kid who wants a BB gun?” he replied.
I paused for a moment and then said, “No. It’s a movie about a good father that gives his son a gift no one else trusts him with.”
It’s true that Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun throughout the entire movie. At every turn, he is told that it's too dangerous. That he can’t be trusted with such a gift. He is not mature enough yet. His mother, teacher and even Santa Claus all tell him “You’ll shoot your eye out.” But Ralphie never asks his father. Several times in the film it is evident that Ralphie is somewhat fearful of his father. That he views him as harsh and hard. This image he has is blown apart at the end when he is surprised by his dad with the gift no one else would trust him with. His dad gives it to him in fatherly pride and joy with no warnings or caveats.
Christmas is the celebration of God gifting His son to the world. A God we often view as harsh and hard giving us a gift, we never thought to ask Him for. Reconciliation and freedom. The gift of freedom comes with no strings attached. No caveats or warnings. We only receive it. Some will be afraid of what we'll do with such a gift. Surely we need some rules for this gift. Are we mature enough to be free? Are we responsible enough? Will we shoot our eyes out? We might. Ralphie almost does when he, in joyful zeal, immediately runs outside to try out this awesome present. But like his father, our Father wants us to have the gift. It’s His joy to give it to us. He is willing to take the risk. We will make mistakes, but little by little we will learn how to use it.
Christmas is the story of a good Father giving His children a gift no one would trust them with. The gift of total freedom in and for the sake of Christ. There is nothing left to do. So go be free. Figure it out. And maybe watch A Christmas Story one more time.
Daniel is the Director of Christ Hold Fast, an author, church and conference speaker and co-host of the podcasts 40 Minutes in the Old Testament and 30 Minutes in the New Testament. He has served as a church planter, pastor and worship leader and currently lives in Bentonville Arkansas with his wife Jessica and daughter Anna.