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The Parable of the Four Bells

Christine Anderson

The First Baptist Church of Clappersville announced auditions for an open position in their handbell choir. Four shiny C7 handbells arrived all excited about ringing in this group, and each bell had high expectations that she would be the one chosen. One by one they approached the table, ready to ring with confidence and clarity.


The music began, and the first C7 gave a might snap in just the right place in the first measure – but oh no! Not a sound burst forth! She tried again and again to ring her note, but without success. The handbell director stopped the music, and walked over to the C7 to see what was wrong. C7 looked perfect on the outside, and was even newly polished, but looking inside the bell, the director discovered there was no clapper! “You are disqualified, you must be separated from the handbell choir until you return to the factory and receive a clapper,” the director said sadly.


The second C7 stepped into the empty spot with a little less enthusiasm after the dismissal of the first C7. As the music began again, no matter how hard this C7 tried, no sound came forth from the little bell. The director patiently came over and looked inside the bell. “Well, you’ve got a clapper, and you’re just as shiny and clean as the other bell, but it seems that your clapper is too tight to produce any sound. You are also disqualified. Please go get your clapper properly adjusted before auditioning again.”


While she left the room in consternation, the next C7 took her place, with both a look of guilt and bravado. Sweet notes poured forth from the newest C7 at the handbell table. Several measures into the piece, this little bell started feeling more proud, turning to her neighbor to criticize wrong notes. As she turned, the director noticed ugly dirt and grime on the back side of the bell, hidden from view until she tried to correct the bell next to her. Stopping the rehearsal, the director told the C7 to leave the handbell choir until she could get herself cleaned up inside and out.


Finally, the last C7 humbly walked to her position and waited for the downbeat. She rang beautifully all the way through to the end of the song! The director exclaimed, “You are the best C7, please join our handbell choir and share your beautiful sounds with all of the other ringers. Let’s make joyful music together!”


Which bell represents YOU?


The clapperless C7 is like the person who thinks because they go to church, do good deeds, try to keep the 10 Commandments, and are generally a “good” person, that he or she is a “real” Christian. But standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car, any more than attending church makes you a Christian. When God looks into the heart, if He does not see Jesus Christ, then sin has separated that person from God, and the only remedy is to come to Christ in repentance for forgiveness of sins, and to accept the free gift of salvation. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Romans 3:23; 6:23 Matthew 7:21-23


The bell with the tight clapper represents those who are truly born again, but have never surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. That person is just as ineffective as the that C7, clinging to an unforgiving spirit, living a self-centered life, holding a grudge, insisting everyone do it “my way”, living an unchanged life. Titus 3:5 & 6 Ephesians 4:32 Hebrews 12:1 & 2


The half clean, half dirty bell represents a Christian who started out well, walking in fellowship with the Lord, & studying God’s Word. This Christian is a hypocrite! The shiny side fools a lot of people, but God sees the dirt of sin, of walking in step with the world. Secret sins don’t fool God, and make a person as ineffective as the first 3 bells are in a bell choir. The saddest thing about this person is how he or she shames God’s name and reputation, making the Christian a laughing stock in the world. Colossians 1:10 I Peter 1:14 & 15 II Corinthians 5:17 Romans 12:9-13


The fourth person is like the perfect bell, clean inside and out, with a clapper that moves freely and sounds at exactly the right time. We’ll never be perfect in this life, but we should always strive to please God in all our ways, to constantly be keeping the goal in view of becoming more and more like Jesus, and to be holy as He is holy. Just as a handbell choir that practices constantly to become as excellent as possible, so the Christian must practice the presence of God constantly through reading, meditating, and practicing the Word of God, and spending much time in the fellowship of prayer. Even when this bell is shaken, all that comes forth is the same consistently beautiful sound – as Christians should be even when trials come to knock us around. Psalm 42:1 & 2 Hebrews 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 Matthew 7:16-20


And remember, no matter how wonderful a bell may be, it cannot ring unless it’s in the Master's hands. And the bell is in a choir ~ it never performs alone.


Which bell are YOU?




© Christine Anderson, 2008