Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do We Confuse God with Santa Claus?

Do We Confuse God with Santa Claus?
Do we ever confuse God with Santa Claus?  What a foolish question.  Of course we know the difference between God and Santa Claus.  I can’t imagine any sane person who would purposely confuse God with Santa, but consider these points:

1. Both dwell in distant places uninhabited by humans.

2.  Jesus has promised to return for His own; Santa will return to your town this Christmas.

3. They both see us when we are sleeping or awake.

4. Both have a list, and show a clear concern with “goodness” and “badness.”

But note the MAJOR differences between God and Santa:

Santa has a “naughty and nice” list, and he only brings toys to “good little girls and boys.” You had better be good because Santa is coming to town with a list that he’s checked twice.  No toys for you if your name is on the wrong list.  This is reinforcing legalism.

Jesus likewise has a list.  His list has the name of every believer in His Book of Life. This list is not a reward based on good behavior but a list that based on His grace. There is nothing we can do to earn His favor or lose it (Eph 2:8-9). This is teaching grace. 

If you make Santa’s “nice list,” he’ll give you anything you ask.  You’ve earned it. By contrast, Jesus gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. 

Santa serves us by giving us gifts. By contrast, our ultimate purpose in life is to serve Jesus out of deep gratitude.

Santa is a myth.. Jesus is real. 

Okay, we hit the basics.  But how do they affect our behavior?

I have met and read about many believers who conclude that God doesn’t love them or doesn’t exist because they didn’t receive their desired request.  It is my sincere belief that these people are simply confusing the myth of Santa with the reality of Jesus. 

How can we help our children understand the difference between Santa and God? 

First, make certain that you and your children understand the difference between God and Santa (see my points above).

Then explain to your children why you believe the Bible is true.  This will help to reinforce the truth of the Christmas story in your life as well.  As a teacher, I realized that I never really understood a lesson until I was able to explain it to others. 

Second, tell your children the story of the real Saint Nicolas (Santa Claus), the Bishop of Myra (in Asia Minor) during the 4th century (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/my-kind-of-santa/). Saint Nicholas wanted to honor the Christ child by giving gifts to those in need.  The historical truth provides a better story than the myth about some “jolly fat guy” who makes lists and brings gifts to those on his “good list.” 

Finally, make certain you and your family understand God’s grace by explaining WHY Jesus was born. It’s a great story (Luke 2). 

During this Christmas season, you and your family will hear countless songs about Santa making a list of who is naughty and nice, etc.  May I offer a suggestion?  Every time you hear a song like that, thank God that He doesn’t evaluate our goodness by our deeds.  Thank Him for seeing us only through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

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