1) Never preach with someone’s face in mind. In other words, don’t write or deliver a sermon because somebody has been boneheaded enough to give you the perfect illustration of how not to live, and…
2) A pulpit is not a soapbox. Use your privilege of having an audience to preach the gospel, not to rant on topics that just bother you.
Fortunately, a blog is not a pulpit, except inasmuch as I, being a pastor and a preacher of the gospel 24 hours a day, must be ever mindful of the weight of my words. Just like everybody else, though, when you come right down to it. Anyway, I am about to break rule number two, while not breaking rule number 1, though if what I’m about to say about rule number 2 gets your goat, you may think I’m breaking rule number 1 and talking about you. I’m not. I promise. So, if the shoe fits, don’t kick me with it.
I was a sophomore in college (30 years ago), when I first heard another believer say something like this: “When I have children, I won’t tell them about Santa Claus at Christmas, because when they grow up and find out I lied, they will think I lied about Jesus, too.” I had to think about that one. And, to be honest, as I thought about it, it made pretty good sense to me at the time. Not so much anymore.
Before we go any further, let me say that I am not advocating a pro-Santa or anti-Santa stance in this blog. That is absolutely up to the sensibilities and convictions of every parental unit and/or team. What I am about to refer to, though, is what I consider a not-good-enough reason for throwing Santa under the bus.
Years later, as my wife and I began to have children, we decided to let our kids experience the fun and magical atmosphere of Christmas, including Santa, while making absolutely sure that they knew, right up front, without a shadow of a doubt, that the reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I understand, however, that in the minds of many anti-Santa advocates, that isn’t good enough because it skirts the issue. The issue for them, it seems, is that by doing so, I run the risk of my children equating Jesus with Santa Claus, and thus throwing away Christianity because if one is a myth, the other must be, too.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem. If my faith in Jesus Christ as the risen, loving, redeeming, ever-present Son of the Only Living God looks the same to my children as my few-weeks-a-year pretend belief in a jolly old elf in a red suit who delivers toys to good boys and girls, then there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with my faith! If my children don’t see me living out the realities of a life in the Kingdom of God every day of every year, then I have reason to worry. The fact is, though, my children don’t see me lift my hands in worship to Santa every single Sunday. They don’t hear me pray toward the North Pole when we thank God for our daily provision. They have never watched me weep while telling an audience of listeners about the unbounded, beautiful, life-changing grace of St. Nicholas. But they have seen me do all those things with Jesus as the subject- all year long. Consequently, my kids never- not once, not even CLOSE- saw Jesus and Santa in the same stadium, much less on an even playing field.
So here’s my parting shot: If you want to forego the Santa Claus thing and concentrate on Jesus at Christmastime, by all means, be greatly blessed! But if you skip Santa because you don’t want to confuse your children about Jesus, you better take a good long look at how real Jesus is to you the other eleven months of the year.