14: The Man with the Beard

Well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, equates belief in Jesus and belief in Santa Claus as equally flawed and misplaced, and I don’t blame him, we often treat them the same and confuse our children by hyping up the non-existent Santa and downplaying the God who does exist. Santa is a touchy subject, and I think most parents don’t really put much thought into him or what he represents, or the confusion he could bring; he just seems like a fun, harmless, make-believe tradition. But when we put so much effort into essentially tricking our children, and so little into actually sharing with them the truth of Christmas and our God, it begs the question of where our hearts are, even if it seems we are coming from a place of innocence.
Clearly, I’m not a huge fan of Santa. Not just because he has become synonymous with materialism in America, or because most children think December 25th is about elves and a jolly, ageless man. No, I hate that Santa is conditional. I don’t think anything could be further from the truth of Christmas then gifts being given based on the actions done or not done.
Christmas is about the single greatest gift ever given to mankind, a Savior, the promise of redemption, peace, and perfect relationship with God, this gift was given purely out of grace. Meaning we did NOTHING to deserve it, in fact, we scorn it, we spit in the face of God, we nailed him to a cross and mocked him as he cried out under the crushing weight of our sin. Yet, it has been given freely to us.
Enter Santa, you get coal when you’re bad, and beautifully wrapped, sparkling gifts if you’re good. So long as you’re good deeds outweigh your bad behaivor, you’re good with the fat man in the bright red suit. He keeps record of your wrongs and rights and weighs them out. And unfortunately we tend to extend this understanding to God, he’s the man with the gray beard instead of white, but he checks his list too. So long as we’ve prayed, gone to church, gave a homeless man a granola bar or a twenty, we’re okay. Even if the mouth we’re praising God with just cruelly yelled at our spouse, or the hands that gave the homeless man a cheap granola bar also sat idly instead of doing right. We convince ourselves, that no matter how ugly our hearts are, if we do enough good, we’re okay with God. He’ll still give us those shiny golden streets of heaven. We prefer to think of God like Santa, because if we can maintain some kind of balance of good and evil we don’t have to change anything.
That’s one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves.
God isn’t like Santa at all. God doesn’t want our deeds. He wants our hearts. Our righteousness is described in Isaiah as filthy rags, or a better translation being “used mentstral rags.” That’s disgusting, and that’s the imagery God chose to use to describe our “good deeds”. The point being: our good deeds can never outweigh the wickedness in our hearts, and we can only be righteous when we are in relationship with him, when we’ve accepted the gift of salvation and submitted to God as Lord of our lives and depend on his Spirit to guide us, not our own defiled hearts. Because if God were Santa, we’d all be getting coal. We’d all be facing death and hell.
Thankfully God is God, not Santa. He chose to rescue us, to replace our ugliness with the perfection of Christ. When we’re his, our sinful, cruel hearts are cleansed and replaced with the perfect, loving deeds of Jesus. Santa is not merciful, but thankfully, God is.



  1. Emily Bennett · · Reply

    Very well put 🙂 we are not fond of Santa ourselves and a few weeks ago when Brady’s oldest daughter was down, I was telling Ady that Santa is just pretend, when Makenzie questioned me in surprise. She then asked me if the tooth fairy and God were fake too! This to me just drove home the importance of downplaying the materialistic magician of Christmas and emphasizing the beautiful importance of a very real and very true God. The God who gave his greatest gift without record of right or wrong, but with the knowledge of how greatly we truly needed such a special gift.


    1. Thanks, Emily! Very well-put explanation, too!


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