Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Worshipping God through Santa

So that title might have been a little intentionally worded to grab your questioning mind… =) 

I don’t know where your family stands on the “Fat Man”… love and encourage your kids to love him, tell people the other person with those same letters in his name is “Satan”… wherever you land, his presence has inundated our culture as a part of our Christmas reality. In thinking about him some, it has led to me thinking a lot more about our God and His work we celebrate at Christmas time so I thought I’d share some of my ponderings with you.

Ways Santa is similar to God

The words of the now famous Bruce Springsteen song come to mind… (feel free to hum along like I’m doing while I write this =) )

“He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake”

1) Santa is ascribed an almost omniscient (all knowing) character like our God. “But I know your sitting down And your going out and your coming in…” (Isaiah 37:28).

“He knows if you've been bad or good
You better be good for goodness sake”

2) Santa is shown as someone who upholds a moral standard like our God. “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” (Deut 32:4).

3) Santa is thought to be almost omnipresent (present everywhere) at least 1 night of the year like our God who is always everywhere year-round.

Psalm 139:7-12,

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

4) Santa is seen as loving and caring for those less fortunate like our God. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18). “…God is love” (1 Jn 4:8b).

5) Santa is one man making his gifts available to all people. Through Christ, God makes His gift available to all. “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many” (Rom 5:15)

Ways Santa is very different from God

1) Santa seems to believe all people are inherently good and minor mistakes and small foibles or sins are ok to overlook. On the other hand is God Who states, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:10-12 & 23). “…All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6). God’s moral standard is unattainable for anyone on their own.

Back to the song…

“… You better be good for goodness sake

You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town…”

2) Santa seems to require recipients of his gifts to first attain and maintain a certain standard of goodness before they can receive his gifts. God, however, gave us His perfect gift when we were in no state to receive it. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly … But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:6 & 8). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).

3) Santa’s gifts are based on what people want (or think they want) more than anything else. God’s gift is based on what people need more than anything else. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23).

As Christian’s we have the greatest Gift and gift Giver of all, the all-knowing, all-present, morally righteous God. As such, He has seen and knows every horrible thing we’ve done and, seeing us at our inescapable worst has, because of His great love, given us the one gift we need to remove our unrighteousness and bring us to Himself where we alone can find “life,” “fullness of joy,” and “pleasures evermore” (Prov 16:11).

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Love him or hate him, Santa Claus has probably in someway still become a part of your Christmas. Maybe these thoughts will give you a seedbed for some conversations about not only him, but how we can be pointed to the ultimate Gift and Giver this season.

Merry Christmas

Phil Smith

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