Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Let’s take a few days away from breaking down the Bible verse by verse. Since it’s Christmastime, let’s talk about Santa. You see, I believe in Santa Claus.
It’s a running joke in our family that my wife is an elf. Or at least part elf. Her Godly love language is acts of service and it is innate to her very being that she loves to serve others, mainly by giving. It’s not the gift that matters but making someone else’s life a little better that matters most to her. If she has pointy ears and hails from the North Pole then I haven’t seen it. But if Hollywood is ever looking for someone who I think could have worked for Santa, look no further than my home. If you ask Hunnie, she’ll eagerly respond that she, too, believes in Santa.
Now, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re probably familiar with the annual “Jesus versus Santa” debate. You’ve seen the signs saying “Jesus is the reason for the season.” For a long time I was one of the people exercised about the idea of of Santa Claus crowding out the reality of Jesus. Santa seemed so secular, an Easter Bunny in a fluffy red hat. The magic of a fat Norseman slinking down a chimney to give away gifts seemed like a sweetly ominous distraction from the godhead becoming one with His creation to give us the gift of eternal love. I get it; I accept it, too. For years it created conflict in me, wanting to be a true believer in Jesus but not wanting to completely reject the mostly harmless concept of Santa. I mean, in our society, what kind of monster could reject Saint Nick, the venerated gift-giver to good little girls and boys?
Not this one. Yes, I’m a dirty sinner (like you, even like the real Saint Nicholas of Myra), but I came to the point of thinking there is no conflict, there is no harm, there’s no sin in believing in Santa. I won’t even offer the cautionary aside of reminding you of the differences between Jesus and Santa; I believe you get those on your own. Instead, if it is wrong to believe in Santa, explain to me how 2 Corinthians 9:7 lines up with the idea of Santa. The story of Santa Claus is inseparable from the idea of cheerful giving. And the notion of being a cheerful giver is inseparable from 2 Corinthians 9:7. God is all about giving us gifts because He does it every day. He gives us the ultimate gift of free life symbolized by His incarnation in Bethlehem. He gives us the gift through the idea of sharing that loving life through the concept of a jolly old man wanting to simply love on perfect strangers.
Sure, Santa wasn’t a real person whereas Jesus Christ is. We’ll discuss the aforementioned Saint Nicholas later. But God’s love is real whether someone is fiction or not. God’s love simply is, and God loves a cheerful giver. If Santa was a real person, God would love him for being that cheerful giver. Our world could use some more of that, so maybe sharing a little cheerfully giving Santa love is really sharing the true love of Jesus. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from that.
We own a Christmas ornament (and an accompanying children’s book) showing Santa kneeling in praise at the manger of Jesus. I think that fits. I think the story of Santa complements the history of Jesus. To people who reject that, well, God bless you. On this we believe different things. And if you’re like me and you still believe, then God bless you, too, this Christmas season. Ho, ho, ho and merry Christmas whether you believe in Santa or not. If you’re nice, my Hunnie might just send you a gift.
For further reading: Acts 20:35.
Lord, thank You for the story of Santa Claus. Let this popular fable be a way we can give you praise and glory.