Santa Claus Theology
“He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake. Oh, you better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.”
Just think about those lyrics of that song for a moment and separate yourself from what else you might know of the secular imagery of Santa Claus. If I was a kid, and I read that about Santa Claus, but didn’t know anything else about him, I would be scared to death of the jolly fat elf. He’s a seriously creepy old man, who watches me when I sleep (ultra creepy) just waiting for me to slip up and make a mistake. For generations, parents have used Santa as their ploy to get their kids to be well-behaved at Christmas time. “You better be good or you’re getting coal in your stocking from Santa,” has been the mantra of desperate parents for years. Now, while many Christians have differing views on whether or not Santa should be included in their Christmas traditions, that is not the subject of this blog post. What I do want to touch on is how Santa Claus theology is remarkably similar to our sometimes flawed view of who God the Father is.
How many of us have felt like God was like Santa Claus, watching us and just waiting for us to slip up and sin? And then we wait for the coal to get put in our stocking. We’re waiting for judgement to get poured down on us from heaven because of our failings.
That is not the message of the cross. The message of the cross is that our sin is no longer punishable. There was ONE sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:14…by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.) There was ONE punishment. That is, of course, not to say that there aren’t still consequences for our sins. There are. When God allows us to receive correction and discipline for our sin, it is always out of love and for our greater benefit. It’s never just a lump of coal in a stocking.
Consider another lyric of the song. “He’s making a list, and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Clause is coming to town.”
Oh, I can’t wait for that visit. Let’s set out a plate of cookies and a nice cold glass of milk for that guy. The guy who is making a list of everything I’ve done wrong. It either makes us feel one of two things: Fear or Anger.
God is not making a list.
Acts 3:19– Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”
If you are truly repentant of your sins, God doesn’t even have a list. It’s been shredded. Obliterated. Destroyed. So there is nothing he can “check twice.”
There are certainly sins that I struggle with on an occasional basis; sins where I am especially week. I dare say that we all have areas of weakness and foolishness that we can’t conquer on our own without God’s strength (Proverbs 26:11). And there are days when I get hung up on them and I beat myself up. I feel like God can’t possibly love me today because of what I’ve done. But that is Santa Claus theology. My God actually knows me, loves me, created me, and has paid the price for my failure. EVERY failure.
I often think of King David, and how he must have dealt with his unbelievably wicked acts. Having a man murdered because he lusted after his wife. Pretty horrible. And there were, in fact, consequences for his sin. But the key to receiving grace in your heart is repentance. David was sorrowful and repentant for his sin.
Psalm 51:7 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Let’s all remain thankful this Christmas season that God is not checking his list on us every day. There is no list! And when he does come to town, we can be sure that he only has treasure waiting for us in heaven.