Happy Holidays everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas! With it being Christmas time, it’s only natural that we have a Christmas post.
Today I want to talk to you about the jolly old man who delivered all your presents a few nights ago. The one that goes “Ho Ho Ho” and has reindeers to fly him around.
I think it is easy to agree that Santa is a wonderful character. His whole existence is to bring gifts to all of the girls and boys around the whole world. His whole existence is to give. His whole existence is to provide for others. Santa is probably the most selfless idol that our culture has.
His job is to judge between good and bad. He makes a list of everyone who is naughty and of everyone who is nice, checking it twice…you know how the story goes.
A whole existence dedicated to giving and judging between what’s right and wrong; does that sound like someone else to you? Is Santa our new god? Do we wish to Santa for good things to happen in our lives? Do we threaten our kids with disappointing Santa in order to keep them good?
As adults, we probably don’t think we’ve made Santa into a god. We know how the stockings get filled every year. We don’t have a shrine to Santa, well, unless you’re counting our station of milk and cookies…but that’s tradition.
Ok, maybe it sounds a little like we’ve idolized Santa, but this isn’t a golden calf scenario. Besides all the songs we sing about him, we don’t worship Santa. We certainly don’t love him more than God, even if we can’t say the same for our kids.
The Christmas season is all about giving. It’s a time for us to look back on all that God has given us and reflect the Spirit of giving to others. It’s a time for us to remember that God gave us the gift of communion with Him, our creator, when He was born as Jesus. It’s a time to remember that He has invited us to eat at His table. Instead of reflecting on this and focusing all of our energy on thanking Him and communing with Him, we pour energy into Santa and Christmas trees and cute decorations of snowmen and reindeers.
But I’m not very concerned about all of that. In order to make the holiday more accessible to the world, we have let the world change the holiday. And I think that’s ok. It’s not ideal but it means that O Holy Night gets sung between Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Santa Baby, which is better than it not being sung at all. The Spirit of giving finds His way into the hearts of more people, even if they don’t recognize that it’s the Holy Spirit. People become more mindful of others and that is part of the foundation of the Good News.
What concerns me is that we have allowed Santa to shape our understanding of God.
Santa is a lap that we sit in and wish for all the things that we want; a cool new toy, the newest and sleekest phone. We tell him everything our minds might dream of. And if we do enough good things to outweigh all of the bad things we did, then we get whatever it was we wished for.
We sometimes view God this way. If I do enough good deeds to outweigh the bad, then I get whatever I wish for; a newer car, a bigger house, a thicker wallet. God becomes a lap that we sit on and wish for whatever our heart desires. Then we believe that if we are good enough, God will give us everything we want. And if He doesn’t, we get mad at Him for not keeping His side of the bargain, a bargain that we made without Him.
I remember some of the prayers I said when I was in middle school. “Dear God, I know I didn’t study for this test, but please let me get an A. In your son’s name, amen.” If I had done enough good things, then that’s how Santa works, but that’s not how God works. To reduce God to a request box is to misunderstand our relationship with God.
Yes God wants to see us blessed and joyous, but His goal for us is not an immediate blessing and joy, it is an eternal blessing an joy. God understands what we need on an eternal scale.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
When we ask for things that align with God’s will He generously gives. When we ask for things that do not align with God’s will He generously withholds.
Culture is a powerful force. It dictates many things in our lives. We must be careful not to let culture change our view on God, but instead let our view on God change culture.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Laurel and I to you!
Please comment with any thoughts, ideas, or questions! I would love to hear what you think!