A Christmas Story

Posted: December 25, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Comedy, Drama, Family, Seasonal
Tags: , , , , , ,

a christmas story

A Christmas Story (1983) is, no doubt, one of my favorite Christmas films. IMDB.com summarizes the story: “Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.” I won’t spill anymore digital ink with a synopsis. If you would like more about the general content, head to IMDB.com.

I love this film for a number of reasons. 1.) Nostalgia. The story is set in Hammond, Indiana – a town very close to where I grew up. The film’s setting feels like home. 2.) Great narration. The film is like a stroll down memory lane as an adult Ralphie recalls Christmas growing up. 3.) Great characters. The list includes Ralphie’s “old man,” local bully Scut Farkus, a dream-busting store Santa, and Flick – the infamous example of why peer pressure is a dangerous thing. 4.) I can watch it again and again. It’s just one of those films.

A Christmas Story is also a great film, because it vividly illustrates the danger of idolatry. The cast of characters unknowingly warns us of the power of an idol.

Perhaps for many, the mention of idolatry brings to mind little golden statues that people in biblical stories worshipped. While that may be accurate to a point, idolatry can be defined more broadly. Idols are things that take the place of God in our lives. Idols rule us. They control us. Idols are the things that we think about more than anything else. Put simply, an idol is often a good thing that has become a God-thing.

We vividly witness two tell-tale signs of idolatry in Ralphie and his “old man.” How can you tell if something is an idol? If either of the two statements below are true, you have an idol in your life.

images-11. I must have it! – It is an understatement to say that Ralphie would like a “Red Rider” BB gun for Christmas. He doesn’t just want it…he needs it! Throughout the film we watch Ralphie’s desperate attempts to ensure that Red Rider is under the tree Christmas morning. From subtle hints to outright manipulation, Ralphie must have that gun.

Idols are “must haves.” You can spot an idol by answering this question. What must I have in order to be happy?

images2. I must keep it! – One of the plot lines of the film follows Ralphie’s “old man,” Frank, who is the grand prize winner of a fish-net stocking-clad leg lamp. This raunchy table lamp, while prized by Mr. Parker is despised by his wife. Frank becomes so obsessed with his lamp, that his wife “accidentally” breaks it while vacuuming.

Idols are “must keeps.” We will do anything to protect an idol. Answer this – What must I never lose in order to be happy?

Although it may be easy to identify the ridiculous obsession of a leg lamp, the idols in our own lives can be difficult to see and/or acknowledge. Idols are deceitful things. They promise us happiness and satisfaction, but soon enslave us – leaving us dissatisfied and wanting more. We find ourselves trapped in sin – unable to get away from our new masters.

We need help destroying what will ultimately destroy us. We need people like Ralphie’s mother who will risk relationship in order to help us to break the chains of our idolatry. We need others in our lives who will help us to destroy the idols that deceive us.

Hebrews 3:12-13 puts it this way…

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from he living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Do you have people in your life who will encourage and challenge you? Do you do this for others?

Let’s heed this Christmas warning and work together to fight idolatry – remembering that satisfaction will only be found in relationship with the true God – Jesus Christ!

  1. kiamalee says:

    John — you never disappoint! Great article and a great reminder for this time of year when our hearts so easily trend towards idol worship.

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