Jesus and Santa

“I can’t wait for Christmas!!!”  My granddaughter blurted out to the clerk restocking the shelves at the grocery store. The clerk responded with, “Have you been good this year so Santa will come?” Arianna looked a little confused and then answered,  “Santa’s not real, God’s real.” Now it was the clerk’s turn to be confused. Not knowing just what to say I smiled, and we moved on down the aisle.

I thought about the conversation all the way home. I don’t think of Santa as evil, but Jesus is so much better.

Santa keeps a list of who is naughty or nice. The theory is he only visits those who have been good. We use it to motivate kids to cooperate with us those last weeks before Christmas or those gifts aren’t going to show up.

Jesus, on the other hand, came knowing we weren’t nice. We needed a Savior who could save us from our sin. (Matt. 1:21) His coming depended on God’s goodness, not our goodness.

Santa supposedly leaves a lump of coal to those who don’t measure up. Jesus offers complete forgiveness and has taken the punishment we deserve by dying in our place.

Santa lives forever to keep track. Jesus now lives forever to intercede for us before God. (Romans 8:34)

Santa shows up one day a year. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

But the most important difference between Santa and Jesus is the one Arianna pointed out so simply. “Santa isn’t real …God is real!” It is fun to pretend, but my belief in God isn’t a fantasy. It is something I have staked my life on. So as you celebrate Christmas this year remember it is about a Savior, not a Santa.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Now that’s something to be excited about!

 

An Unpopular Message

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh…”  (Jonah 3:1-2a NASB)

Jonah finally obeyed. God had to ask him again, but Jonah obeyed. He got up, went to Nineveh and started preaching an unpopular message.

I’ve confronted an individual or two, but can you imagine confronting a whole city? A city full of violent people you consider your enemies?

Jonah warned that in 40 days God would destroy their city. What was going through Jonah’s mind as he preached? Did he expect to be killed when he opened his mouth? Did he wonder if he would make it out of the city alive? It was too late to turn back. He started walking and preaching.

Their response to Jonah and his message was startling. A grass roots movement was started that spread to all social classes. Eventually the king also heard and put his royal robes aside to become one with the people. A city-wide fast was held that even included the animals.  It was a last ditch effort to appeal to this God who was angry with their way of life.

As I think of the society I live in I am ashamed of my reluctance to speak plain truth. “After all I don’t want to offend. Everyone has the right to believe what they believe.” While that is true, if I loved them I would confront them with the gospel.

There have been many people through the years who loved me enough to point out my need of God. Time and again I was confronted with my sin and my need of a Savior. They helped me shift my focus from self to the God who loves me. My failure to preach that same message to those who are lost is just as sinful as Jonah’s lack of obedience.

Jonah spoke plain truth. It wasn’t a popular message, but God used it to bring an entire city to repentance. What is God waiting to do with the words I leave unspoken?

It might be costly to speak. It will probably be uncomfortable. My goal can’t be self-preservation, but the well-being of those who need to hear of a loving God who loves them enough to tell them the truth.

May we each have the boldness of Jonah. Speaking the truth to a society who has turned their backs on God.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 NASB)

For further study:

I’ve included a series of blog posts that explain the gospel.

Who is God,

Rebellion in Heaven,

Rebellion on Earth,

My Rebellion,

God’s Redemption,

My Response

Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

There is also a Bible study on my resource page that can be printed free of charge.  The link is below.

Redeemed – A Bible Study for Beginners