As Christians, what should we think of Santa Claus?
The question seems trivial and yet it comes up many times in the minds and discussions of Christians. Some, claiming freedom from deadly legalism, willingly devote themselves to the celebration of the bearded belly with their children; it is harmless fun. Others condemn such a practice for many excellent reasons without falling into legalism; it is a tragic distraction. Although this article takes a clear position, it is our dearest wish that it can guide Christians on both sides of the debate in their reflection on the celebration of Christmas in order to lead them to focus this very important holiday more and more on Jesus. .
After Easter, Christmas should be the happiest day of the year in Christian worship. The reason I write “after Easter” is that Good Friday and Easter are the very reason Christmas exists. Death and resurrection, the salvation of sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus, is the goal of Christmas. Christmas is not the purpose of Easter. Christmas is a means to achieve this goal.
The salvation of sinners celebrated on Good Friday and Easter is the goal of the incarnation celebrated at Christmas.
Jesus came at christmas to seek and save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came at christmas to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus came at christmas to give his life as a ransom to save the greatest number (Mark 10:45). Jesus came at christmas not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13). Jesus came at christmas to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3: 8). Jesus came at christmas so that by his death he could destroy the one who had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14).
So, the birth of the Son of God, the true God, fully man, is a simply stunning, glorious and infinitely serious event - an overflow of the good news. The angel called it “good news, which will be of great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:10).
My question is therefore the following : how could we even think of giving our children a bowl of bland and lukewarm cereal when they are offered the best dish in the world? Why would we give them Santa Claus when they can receive the incarnation of the Son of God? It is simply mind-boggling that a Christian could even consider such an exchange and think of diverting attention - if only in part - from the incarnation of the God of the universe who came into this world to save us, us. and our children. Words fail me at the thought that some might consider such an alternative. Not only is Santa Claus not real while Jesus is the Truth itself, but compared to Jesus, Santa Claus is just merciful and we should help our children to see this :
- Santa offers only earthly things, nothing that lasts, nothing eternal, only the ephemeral. Jesus offers eternal joy and gifts that satisfy the soul in what it needs most.
- Santa offers its ephemeral gifts only on condition that good works are offered in exchange. “He knows who's good and who's bad, so be good,” the song says. It is a religion purely based on works. Jesus himself offered himself freely, expecting nothing in return, and is received by grace through faith.
- Santa is a pretense, a myth. Jesus is more real than the roof of your house.
- Santa appears only once a year. Jesus promises “I am with you every day” (Mat 28:20). You can tell your kids every night he's standing by your side. He is with you when you get up in the morning. He is with you when you go to school today. If mom and dad die, he'll be right there with you. Santa Claus is in no way comparable to the flame that is Jesus.
- Santa cannot solve our biggest problems, while Jesus solved our biggest problem - our sin and our separation from God. Santa can put some frosting on the cake of a "good life", but he cannot take a broken life and hopefully rebuild it forever. Our children need to realize this reality about Christmas.
- Santa is irrelevant to many cultures around the world who find its celebration ridiculous. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords of all peoples.
- Santa will be forgotten one day, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13: 8).
If you think being centered in Jesus will take away the joy of your Christmas, you may not know him well enough.
There is no competition here. I cannot understand why parents - if they know and love Jesus, if they have found in him the greatest treasure the world holds - would put Jesus away from the Christmas feast for the benefit of Santa Claus. The Coca-Cola mascot is just inappropriate. It has nothing to do with this party. He is nothing but a vague chimerical figure agitated by a desecrated West in search of wonder.
My advice is to do whatever you can to make your kids as happy as you can through all kinds of surprises rooted in the true nature of Christmas. Let your decorations point to Jesus. May your food give glory to the child born in the stable. May your games reveal who is "God among us". May your songs acclaim Christ. May your decorations, your joy and your gifts surpass those of the world and may everything point to Jesus. And if being centered on Jesus takes away or lessens the joy of your Christmas, you may not know him well enough.
Free and augmented translation of the transcription of the podcast next of DesiringGod.org.
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