Saturday, December 22, 2012
The Dangers of Santa
By Pastor David Holt and Mark McAndrew
We certainly do not mean to be a “scrooge” in this blog, but we do want to offer some thoughts about modern day Santa Claus. Consider these four concerns:
1. Santa is presented as a “god” figure.
Children are told, “He watches when you sleep; he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” He supposedly flies all over the world, able to enter every home, and bring glad tidings of great joy. This gives omniscience and omnipresent qualities to Santa.
My (David) daughter was recently babysitting for some neighbor children, and they said to her, “Sarah, we have to be good or else Santa won’t come to see us this year.” Kids really believe this stuff.
2. Santa presents a works’ salvation.
You might think we are going to an extreme here, but think this through. In telling children that if they are good, then Santa will come with gifts, we are subtly communicating a works’ righteousness. The common belief today is that if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, then God will accept you into heaven. And yet, God’s Word says we are “saved by grace through faith, that not of ourselves… not of works least anyone boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
If good works could get us to God, then Christ did not need to die. Our only hope of being made right with God is through the substitutionary blood atonement of Jesus Christ. He died to pay for our sins. This is the only payment God will accept.
In addition, it is interesting how Santa ends up coming to all children, regardless of whether or not they were really good that year. In much the same way, most believe that all will go to heaven, regardless of their behavior, unless of course they are someone like Hitler or Adam Lanza.
3. Santa promotes self-centered idolatry.
We have never met a kid who loved Santa. Not one. But we have met hundreds who love his stuff. Every second a child spends on Santa's lap is spent doing what? Asking him for stuff. No one is asking for Santa. Santa is a means to the child's end. The Santa Claus "gospel" is idolatrous and trains us to use God rather than love him. We begin to think that we should be good so that God will give us nice gifts.
However, Scripture shows us that the greatest gift of the gospel is not God's presents, but his presence. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (I Pet. 3:18). The highest and best gift that Jesus purchased for us was entrance into the presence of God.
4. Santa Claus is not real.
The bottom line with Santa is that he is not real. Duh!! But parents who go along with the whole Santa thing are promoting a lie. Now I know most will object by saying, “It’s just fun and games, and they will eventually figure out that it isn’t true.” Perhaps, but also think about a comment I heard recently from a college student. She said she really struggled with believing in the reality of Jesus as a young child, because she thought to herself, “If the whole Santa Claus thing wasn’t real, but my parents presented it to me as if it were, then how can I believe them when they tell me about God became a man by being born of a virgin, performing miracles like walking on water, dying on a tree, and then being raised after three days?” Which is more absurd sounding to a young child?
Now, as an alternative, I suggest parents tell their children the truth. And the way to not totally throw Santa under the bus is to tell them the true story of how Santa came about. Remember that guy St. Nicholas? Look him up and tell the story to your children.