Is Santa Claus Our Projection of The Messiah?
I earned some extra Christmas money during college days as I worked as a shopping-mall-Santa. It was good money, but it almost ruined the Christmas season for me. You can only listen to Christmas mall music so long, before you fall on the sword. And of course, there were the children who got so excited they couldn’t control their bladder while sitting on my knee. It took a few years, but the joy of the season revived. I love the music, laughter, smiles, giving, and Santa.
I don’t want to ruin the Santa experience for children, but it does bother me that many adults have not made the distinction between Santa and Jesus. I fear that the most common concept of Jesus is closer to Santa than to the Jesus who appears on the pages of the New Testament.
Jesus and Santa Claus
He was God who came as a human to give himself to rescue us from the bondage of the tri-fold tyranny of sin, self and Satan. He is not keeping a list of who is naughty or nice. We are all naughtier than we know. He doesn’t reward the nice with gifts while leaving black coal in the stockings of the rest. Only the fully obedient gets the reward. Jesus, as a human, did that.
He doesn’t just come to town periodically to judge and dispense gifts. He came to live with us in intimate fashion, 24/7. In fact, he made his people living stones in his permanent temple on earth.
He doesn’t just consider our wish list with care. He gives us what we need — even when we don’t know it. His list of prepared gifts is astounding. We would settle for some temporal toys, while he brings eternal life with all its benefits.
In an effort to be inclusive and inoffensive, Christians have quietly succumbed to a secularized Christmas. Santa typifies our concept of God as mythical, transactional (If we offer our goodness, he gives his gifts), and useful for the naive. The radical act of God becoming man is too much to comprehend. And after all, Santa usually ignores the “list” and gives good things to all who want a gift. So, God must not really be serious about our aligning with his design for living.
Surely we are not so naughty as to need a Savior to die in our stead. That is too bloody and violent. If he exists at all, he must just offer advice on how to be better people.
The Real Message of Christmas
The real message of Christmas is earthshaking. It is no wonder that the wise men traveled, the shepherds were amazed, and the angels sang. Santa is a laughable myth we can enjoy for a few days. Jesus is the Lord of all who gives us the Spirit that raised him from the dead and grants us joy forever.
Santa comes to town once a year. Jesus came to earth once, and nothing has been the same since. We can wink at Santa, but we worship when we see Jesus. And we don’t have to wait until he comes again.