The Gospel

The Gospel

Friday, December 17, 2010

Does Santa Preach A Different Gospel

If you want to ruffle some feathers in the church as a pastor, don't promote Santa.  I am not sure why, but this always generates an anger that seems greatly displaced.  I don't hate Santa.  In my house we rarely talk about him positively or negatively.  The first two years of my oldest daughters life we referred to him as "the man".   We have told our children that Santa is a game people play about a real man who died many years ago.  I still remember, with fear and trembling, when my daughter was going around church telling all her friends that Santa was dead.  You would have thought I had taught my children a cuss word.  Parents were a little bothered.  I am not sure why.  Last time I checked Santa is dead...but never mind.

One individual said to me that I was stripping my children of "joy at Christmas" by not promoting and encouraging a belief in Santa.  Am I really doing them a disservice?  The real "Santa", was a just a man, St. Nicholas by historical accounts, who was a prominent church leader in the early church.  In fact he might roll over in his grave if he saw what people had turned him into (is there any body that wants to be portrayed as an overweight man with an uncontrolled beard who walks around in Pajamas all the time).  If parents simply talked about his little known history or the gospel that he believed in that would be one thing.  Most parents don't; the Santa they do celebrate preaches a very different gospel than what St. Nicholas believed in.

The mythical Santa has developed over the years into a grumpy old policeman, who tracks down all the bad kids to knock them off his list, who now lives eternally at the north poll and blesses only those kids that are good.  The holiday song "Santa Claus is coming to town" says Santa knows if you have been good or bad so be good for goodness sake.  Who determines who is good?  This way of thinking, while common in our world, is very different from how God responds to us.

The Bible says that none of us are good, except for Jesus.  We are all marred by a sinful nature and we deserve nothing.  God doesn't save us because we are good or withhold gifts because we are bad.  He blesses us in Christ because he first loved us and chose to save us through faith in the Gospel.  Santa died, just like the rest of us will one day, baring the return of Christ.  God is the only eternally existing one.  I think Santa just teaches children, and apparently some adults, basic Pharisaical self righteousness. 

Parents spend so much time telling a little white lie to their kids about the presence of Santa and about pleasing the big guy by being good.  Trust me, you will have to unpack that one day when you start teaching them about total depravity and the gospel of Jesus.  Why not teach our children about the true gift giver and how he lavishes on us gifts that we don't deserve all because of his gracious love for us.   Tell your kids that you (as parents) are giving your children gifts, not because they have been good, but because you love them and that is what parents do; and you are simply mirroring our Heavenly Father who gave us salvation, the spirit, fruit in our lives and so much more.  Share with your kids real heroes of the faith.  We are reading our children this Christmas "Peril and Peace", a church history book for children that teaches them of the many men (and women) who died for the sake of the gospel in the early church .  There are no elves in it but it will keep their attention.     

I could be wrong, but I don't think I am stripping my children of joy by celebrating the birth of Jesus without the presence of an obese elf.  I hope I am directing their attention to the real joy of the season - The Lord Has come, let earth (and us) receive her King.  Why not leave Santa out of our Christian celebration of Christ all together.  He is dead - Jesus is alive...and Jesus is coming again.

The Outpost - Bible Preaching (Brooke Taylor)