Monday, December 25, 2017

Earning Gifts from Santa

The way I've always understood it, a gift is something that is freely given. If you work to receive something, it is not a gift, but earned like wages or something. Children in many parts of the world are told about a being known by many names, including Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus (see the pattern on the last three names?), and others.


Credit: RGBStock / LUSI
Way back yonder, Nicholas was a godly man who was also a giver of gifts. Legends built up, and today we have a recluse who lives at the North Pole, flying around the world with in a sleigh drawn by reindeer and giving gifts to all the good little girls and boys. Probably defies the laws of physics, as this internet legend indicates.

Like many others, I believed in Santa Claus, but as I grew older, I realized that the storyline was impossible. The myth was shattered when I walked past my parents' bedroom, the door was wide open and a big box of unwrapped gifts was in the middle of the floor. If they didn't want me "snooping", they could have at least moved the box out of plain view.

I never shook the feeling that my parents lied to me, though. Many adults are telling this fable to their children, often to prompt them to "be good" so Santa will bring them presents. (It probably works for about a week before Christmas, then they're back to being their old selves again after they grab the loot.) My kids were never told the full myth, but were told about it. I disremember if we told them not to spoil it for other kids who believe in Santa, though. The reason we leveled with them about Santa is that we did not want them to associate that with the truth of God becoming flesh and taking on the form of a man, whose birth is observed on December 25 or January 6. Here is one picture mixing the Santa myth with the reality of Jesus' birth that I like very much.

There is a false salvation connection with Santa. He sees and knows every child all the time, like an omniscient god. (Someone pointed out that he shouldn't need a list to check twice if he's that all-knowing.) Kids have to earn their gifts through good behavior. Then they are not gifts, they are wages. It is very bad to associate salvation with works, because it is only through God's grace and a gift of God (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9). Don't confuse the kids, you savvy? And don't confuse yourselves, either. No religious traditions, ceremonies, chanting, "being good" or anything else can save you except repenting and trusting Christ alone for your salvation.

You want to play at the Santa game, fine. It's a cute decoration (except for the creepy ones) and ubiquitous. If you don't like it, that's fine too, but don't be going Pharisee on folks, old son. Santa is still a veiled symbol of giving, and God gave us his Son as the ultimate gift.
[A] popular song portrays the portly North-pole dwelling St. Nick as omnipresent and omniscient—he somehow knows what every child is doing everywhere in the world. Of course, those are attributes that belong to God alone.

It also urges children to “be good for goodness’ sake!” But some vague idea of “goodness’ sake” or the hope of reaping a reward from Santa (or anyone else) should never be our motivation for being good. And who defines what “good” is in this context anyway?

We should be “good”—as defined by God in his Word—because we love our Heavenly Father and do not want to sin against him, and because he has commanded us to be perfect as he is (Matthew 5:48).
To read the entire article, click on "Naughty or Nice?" Also, for more material of a biblical nature and a passel of links for further reading, click on "Christmas and Creationists".



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