Santa as a teacher

December 20, 2005

When I was growing up I was fully aware of Santa. I received gifts from him. I left notes for him. I set out cookies for him and carrots for Rudolf. It was all very fascinating.

My girl-friend did not have the same experience. When she asked me to defend my parents’ perpetuation of Santa I fell back on a million similar things in books and videos etc. It did get me thinking though.

I began to think about what Santa taught me. Over eight or ten years he must have taught me something. A basic premiss is his song – “You better not pout, you better not cry… He knows when you are bad or good so be good for goodness sake”.

He taught me to be good. Why? For goodness sake. With a little tweaking I may have seen that it was for God’s sake, no problem. But why should I refrain from bad and do good? So I would get Christmas presents, of course.

There are two ways to look at this.
With Santa we try not to do bad and try to do good. It’s good enough, so Santa gives us a new Nintendo 360. Our teaching from Santa teaches us just as the Old Testament does. We receive eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ. This is a gift of infinite value. We cannot refrain from bad and do good to the extent that is required by the one giving us the gift, our perfect heavenly Father. Therefore, we must give up our effort to earn the infinite gift of God. Instead, we have to accept that Jesus lived sinlessly (refrained from bad) and in complete righteousness (did good) as well as dying for our sins (paying the cost for our gift) so that we could live forever with Him. Then in gratitude for God’s gift we obey Him.
Exactly the opposite, Santa teaches that being good enough has a pay-off. That pay-off can be earned by our hard work. He would then end up teaching a salvation by works, which is damning.

I pray we look more closely at what we teach at this time of year. You will be the one who teaches your children about Santa and his message. Is that message the gospel or a lesson on where life without the gospel will leave you?


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