The question today is …
Can Jesus Christ and Santa Claus co-exist?
What part should Santa play in a Christian’s Christmas?
Would Jesus take a “selfie” with Santa?
I believe the answer to that question is …
Of course Jesus would take a “selfie” with Santa.
You may be opposed to Jesus taking a “selfie” period since he lived a selfless life. And that, my friends, is probably another curious article for another time.
Jesus Christ was constantly hanging out with those who were out of bounds, maligned, mistreated and misunderstood.
Now, the fact that I believe Jesus would “hang out” with Santa in no way makes them equivalent!
They are as different as they can be.
Families wrestle with this Jesus vs. Santa dilemma every Christmas season, and my typical response is to dodge the question and give a lame explanation that I grew up with Jesus and Santa, and I turned out fine.
But this year the dilemma has me thinking, researching and writing.
So here we go!
Jesus vs. Santa
Santa is make-believe. (The North Pole Santa)
Jesus is more real than the roof over your head. (Luke 2:1-20)
Santa offers only temporary things, nothing lasting, nothing eternal.
Jesus offers eternal life, joy, peace and presence with God. (John 14:6)
Santa offers gifts on the condition of good works. (Naughty or Nice)
Jesus offers the gift of eternal life freely, by grace, through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
Santa only shows up once a year.
Jesus promises he will be with you always. (Matthew 28:20)
Santa cannot solve our greatest problem.
Jesus solved our greatest problem, our sin and separation from God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Santa is not relevant in many cultures around the world.
Jesus is the King of kings and over all the peoples of the world. (Philippians 2:10-11)
Santa will be forgotten some day.
Jesus will never fade away or be forgotten. (Hebrews 13:8)
I owe the inspiration for these seven insights to an article on the “Desiring God” blog.
The Story of Jesus
Luke 2:1-20 (Message)
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
The Story of Santa
Santa Claus has a history all his own. His legend stretches all the way back to the 3rd century. The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back for centuries to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.
St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death. The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas).
‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped popularize the now-familiar image of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve–in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer–leaving presents for deserving children.
So, can Jesus and Santa co-exist?
If you are still reading, you may be feeling really uncomfortable. Any talk or speculation of Jesus and Santa being buds creates tension. In this culture, especially Christians are either boxed into being a Santa-supporter or Santa-hater.
I believe they can co-exist as long as children understand they are not equal or interchangeable. Jesus is God in the flesh, and He created Saint Nicholas!
I also understand the possible perils of anything detracting from Jesus this time of year. But let’s face it, there are a thousand things that make life hectic and distract us from Jesus during Christmas.
When it comes to Santa, our goal should not be to ignore him but to teach our kids about a noble man, Saint Nicholas, who was trying to do good for the poor and broken just as Jesus would have wanted him to do.