I've been praying for Santa and his wife, Mrs. Claus. I've invited them to church. They say they'd come if they just weren't so busy. They own a small business that seems to eat up all of their free time. I've shared my faith with them before, and they always smile at me kindly. But they just won't accept Jesus as their Savior. It's not that they have a problem with Jesus. After all, Jesus and Santa are the two faces of the biggest holiday in the world. Santa respects Jesus, but what he cannot wrap his mind around is the Gospel.
You know the Gospel right?
The Part of the Gospel Santa Knows Best
It's the truth that all of us are sinners. From the North Pole to the South Pole and in every nook and cranny in between, the planet is packed with sinners. It's our very nature to rebel against God's holy standards and try to live life on our terms. It rarely works out like we think it will, and that is bad news.
But there is worse news because there is a God in heaven who is not just holy. He's holy, holy, holy. He is set apart. He is perfect. And because He is so holy, He cannot tolerate our sin. Isaiah 59:2 says that because of our sin, God hides His face from us. Our sin keeps us separated from our Creator. What's more, Romans 6:23 says that the punishment that we all deserve is death.
Santa knows all about this half of the Gospel. He's always watching for sin. Sure, he calls it naughtiness, but it's the same thing. He sees us when we're sleeping. He knows when we're awake. He knows when we've been bad or good. The pervasiveness of sin is no surprise to Santa. He has dished out enough lumps of coal to know there are plenty of naughty boys and girls in the world.
But just focusing on sin causes us to miss the beauty of the Gospel.
The Best Gift That Santa Can't Give
Romans 6:23 goes on to say, "But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I can be a lot like Santa. I feel like I have to earn God's love.
God's gift of salvation is totally, 100%, no-strings-attached free. In fact, that is what Christmas is really all about. Jesus came as a baby, but He had no intention of staying so small. He was laid in a wooden crib that first Christmas so that He could bear a wooden cross in order to change my heart of stone. Because of my sin, I deserve so much worse than a lump of coal. I deserve death and eternal separation from the Holy God. Jesus came to pay that penalty. It is an immeasurable gift that I did not earn and could never repay.
Santa just can't get his head around it. He doesn't understand free gifts. His reality is a team of elves working day and night to create gifts for good little boys and girls. He associates gifts with effort and elbow grease.
I can be a lot like Santa. I feel like I have to earn God's love. I find myself often wondering if He will take back the gift He gave me and replace it with a lump of coal. But that is not the Gospel, and it's not the true message of Christmas either.
Jesus came as a perfect bundle so He could die as a perfect sacrifice. No jolly man in a red suit with a bag of toys can offer me anything sweeter.
Santa and his family will have to decide for themselves whether they want to keep clinging to the idea that all good and perfect gifts can only be earned through good and perfect behavior, but I've already made up my mind. Of course, I'm not really praying for our culturally created version of Santa or inviting him to church, but I imagine this is why he would turn down the Gospel if he were my neighbor. It's why so many of us do.
Christmas is so miraculous because it points to a bigger story. Jesus came as a perfect bundle so He could die as a perfect sacrifice. No jolly man in a red suit with a bag of toys can offer me anything sweeter.
How do you fix your eyes on the Gospel during the Christmas season? Leave me a comment below with your answer.