To Santa or not to Santa

I was pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot this morning and wondered, ‘will today be they day I have to answer the looming questions about the jolly red guy, Santa Claus?’ I started asking myself the question, ‘what is it that really, really bothers me about Santa? Is it the pretending? No–I guess not. We purchase princess, strawberry shortcake, etc. items for our children, and they are most certainly not real. Is it presents? No, we give our children presents. Is it the exploding commercialism (on Santa items as well as the Nativity items)? Hmmm, it’s definitely something that bothers me (ironically enough, because I love to decorate and dress the season). However, are any of these the reason we decided long before we even got married that we would not celebrate Santa in our house? I pondered some more while looking for ‘my’ parking spot. Then it hit me. Santa gives gifts based on behavior only. Naughty or nice. Good children receive presents (or are bribed by their parents to think so by this legend). How different is the unconditional love of God and parents! We give to our children out of love! And God gives to us out of love! His gift of salvation to us is an incredible gift of love. There is NOTHING we can do that would ever make us good enough to go to heaven! Can you imagine if God all of the sudden said, “Ok, for this coming year, only those who are good enough are going to get blessings and upon death will join me in heaven!” This is not who God is as documented in the Bible and not who He is in our lives today! So, why would we want to teach our children if they pick up their toys, a person in a red coat (who they don’t have any relationship with) is going to magically give them presents. Will it produce the desired behavior? Probably. But, does it really address the issue of obedience to authority as outlined in the Bible and the real consequences of sin? Not getting presents for failure to pick up toys is not going begin to glimpse the pain disobedience (not just those toys) will eventually cost their soul! One of my favorite quotes is, “Sin will always cost you more than you are willing to pay!” Also, is behavior what we are really after? If that is, we might as well call in a dog trainer! We’re after getting to the heart of the behavior issue–addressing sin for it is! “Bad” behavior is not the problem but a symptom of the problem: sin in the heart (Proverbs 27:19, Matthew 12:34b). We have to help children see what sin is, learn to ask for forgiveness from God (as well as the one they have hurt) so they can be reconciled to God and others. Then asking God to walk with them always, prompting them to avoid sin and confess it when they sin!

Sigh. What was I talking about? Ah yes–Santa. No, I don’t think he’ll be visiting our house.

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