Recently I had a very interesting discussion with a group of friends on whether or not we believed there was a “Santa” when we grew up.
Some had been told from the start to be quiet about it for the sake of “other children,” but there was no imaginary jolly bearded guy living in the North Pole with elves. He had been a real man named St. Nicholas who gave gifts to the poor and now people imitate the spirit. Others had been crushed to find out that he was a “fake,” some so much that they felt if he was a lie how could Jesus be real? Then there was my sister whose response when finally broken the news of Santa’s imaginary state of being responded with, “Well, at least there’s still the Easter Bunny.”
One story stood out among the others. A woman told of her father who grew up extremely poor. Every Christmas morning there were little to no gifts left under the tree. Instead of the “wonder” of Santa, he came to believe he must have been really “bad” this year and vowed each year to be better.
As we laughed telling stories of childhood and the role Santa played, it got me thinking about how often we can treat Jesus like “Santa.” As a matter of fact a group of my students and I had the same discussion just last week:
We Think He’s Checking His List Twice:
If we go to Jesus with our list of goodies and are “good enough,” then we get all of our desires. We reduce it to a simple tit-for-tat mentality. The Bible is clear that there is no way to “get it right” to earn the gift of Salvation. However, at the same time the Lord does not answer all of our prayers in the way we want, so we wonder what we did “wrong” to tick Santa Jesus off?
We Think We Can Lose the Wonder:
So many love to keep Santa alive because of the child like glee that comes from believing. Yet, everyone knows when you “grow up,” you leave that little kid behind (unless you happen to be Buddy the Elf.) We think it is for the next generation to “believe.” Unfortunately we often place Jesus in this same ideology. We think one day we will just be “too old” to be caught up in the wonder of who He is and what that means for our everyday lives. Those times when He might be silent or life gets difficult we just stop “believing,” forgetting that following him was never meant to be a “duty,” but a joy.
We Think One Day We Will Learn the Truth:
A conversation I have often with teens in my groups is, “How can I KNOW Jesus is who he says He is?” They are afraid one day they will wake up and discover the lie. The funny thing is that we will believe the insanity of a man living in a frozen tundra, flying around with reindeer with a glowing red light bulb for a nose, who only eats cookies, and hangs out with toy making elves- but Jesus, who announced the details of His arrival for hundreds of years and then achieved everything He promised- is the crazy one. People let us down, Santa let us down, so we think Jesus will too.
Santa is fun to remember the power of imagination and fairy tales, but we must remember Jesus was and is real. His power, wonder, awe and glory far outweigh anything else in this season.
Do you every have conversations like this with students or yourself for that matter?