You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why…Santa Claus is NOT coming to town! This time of year, is filled with joy and giving, trees and caroling, eggnog and mistletoe but should Christians believe in a jolly old man who lives out his days in one of the coldest places on the earth? The question also becomes is it suitable for parents to promote the idea of a Santa Claus who travels the world on a sleigh with toys constructed by little elves? Let’s first examine the character and origins of Santa Claus to determine our answer.
Origins of Santa Claus
The concept of Santa has its roots in the Bishop of Myra (modern-day Turkey) whose name was Nicholas dating back to the fourth century. The Romans Catholic church recognized him as a saint after his death on December 6th (hence St. Nick) and the red apparel that the bishops wore would resemble Santa’s outfit today. The bishop was honored with an annual feast where the children of the town would bring all sorts of food and legend has it that Nicholas would come during the night and replace the food with toys. This evolved into a worldwide celebration that spread to what we know today as Christmas.
The reason for the season has its roots in the concept of generosity. We celebrate the coming of Christ, born in a manger, truly God, and truly man to give us the good news and eternal joy. Although the man we know as Santa Claus embodies many of our Christian values, does it justify creating a fictitious idea that if you’re on the naughty list you’ll get coal in your stocking? Perfectionism in the form of behavioral adjustments has a subtle opening door within the idea of Santa Claus. Yet scripture reminds us that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) because what we have to offer is nothing but filthy rags instead of glorious gifts. Have we dumbed down the nativity scene in our meager hopes to control our sinful actions?
One question that becomes clear when we are to articulate whether we should hold to a Santa Claus is does it bring exaltation to the person of Christ? Can others find hope and freedom, or will we allow this continuous lie that’s past down from generation to generation blanket over the grace by which the real gift-giver provides? Romans 6:23 states, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What greater measure of glory can we give this holiday season? While Santa Claus visits every home just once a year, Jesus made a promise that He will always be with us (Matt. 28:20).
What greater measure of glory can we give this holiday season?
Let’s consider a few points to help in our decision-making process.
1. Truth will always be Truth.
– Telling your kids about the greatest story ever told in Christ is our responsibility. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Lead your home in truth and you will reap freedom (John 8:32).
2. The Gift of Grace is better
– The season has been filled with the celebration of gift-giving to others, which is not inherently evil if it is directed towards grace. Paul reminds us that for by grace we have been saved through faith and not of ourselves, but it is a gift of God and not by works (Eph. 2:8). What else can compare to the treasures of our heavens reward than settling for a temporary pleasure at the moment? Let the gift of grace motivate you to give to others just as Christ has given you (1 Peter. 4:10).
3. True Joy is found in Christ
– The theologian C.S. Lewis once was quoted saying “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.” It’s nonsense because it’s incomparable to the perpetual joy that we have as believers. Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Telling your kids about the greatest story ever told in Christ is our responsibility.
This holiday season, let every decoration, gift, and festivities all point back to the person of Jesus. Saint Nicolas would have also wanted it that way, as he served the local church with kindness and generosity. Even as the death of the bishops’ parents provided him with a rich inheritance, it was the death of the Son of God that brings us everlasting life. Tell the story of Jesus as lived out in the life of the bishop who gave up to go up!
Let’s again reexamine the Christmas lyrics and place them into their proper arrangement.
You better watch out! We watch with anticipation for the second coming of our Lord (Matt. 24:42).
You better not cry! My Bible tells me that when they cried to the Lord in their trouble, he saved them from their distress (Psalm 107:19).
You better not pout! Let our earthly displeasure for the cares of this world remind us that God is most gloried in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.
As a result, we can know full well that Jesus is already present in your town or city and will always be the reason for the season.