Merry Christmas! 2014
One of my favorite Christmas films is The Santa Clause 2, a rarity of a sequel better than the original. Yet, if you look around our church, you will see a distinct lack of Santa. As a story, Santa shares the same place as any other fairy story such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Santa as a fairy tale, a fictional story. As a reason for a holiday, the true meaning of Christmas beats the Santa myth easily.
We all know the story of Santa. He lives in the North Pole with his elves making toys for good little girls and boys. During the year he makes a list and checks it twice to see who is naughty or nice. On December 25, Santa loads up his sleigh, harnesses his nine reindeer, and visits all the homes of children in one night. Descending the chimney, he leaves gifts. The naughty children get coal; the nice children get toys. The message of this story is that you get what you deserve. If you do good, Santa rewards you with toys. If you do evil, Santa punishes you with coal.
How different is the true meaning of Christmas! It begins with our inability to do good. We are not good people. (Ro.3:23) We cannot earn presents. We cannot deserve God’s favor. Even our best works are tainted by sin. Instead, God gave us that which we did not deserve, His Son. What is this gift? God gives us righteousness, the credit of Jesus’ good deeds. He gives us the righteousness we need to earn His favor. Jesus came to earth as a baby to live the perfect life that we never could. That baby born in Bethlehem would die condemned to hang on a cross to take the punishment our evil actions deserve. Instead of applying a mere band-aid to our terminal cancer, God healed us when we could not save ourselves.
Why would you want to exchange the story of the greatest gift mankind ever received for a tale completely opposite to the gospel? Santa rewards you for being good. The Bible reminds us that we cannot be good. You may strive to earn Santa’s favor by your behavior. The baby born in Bethlehem earned God’s favor for us, which we could never earn. Of the two, the true story of Christmas beats the myth. Only the gospel of salvation in Jesus sets us free from the condemnation we deserve.
We wish you a happy and blessed Christmas, a Christmas celebrating all that Jesus gave you. May you rejoice in His righteousness given you undeservedly.
Pastor Warren Bennett and The Congregation of Covenant Presbyterian Church