Jesus is Better than Santa Claus

Christmas is finally here! This morning, many of you tore into presents, and spent time with family and friends, and, hopefully, spent time worshiping the Lord.

For many kids, they awoke to find presents from “Santa Claus.” They waited for the mythical man from the North Pole to come down through the chimney with lots of toys.

But I want to take time today, as in every day, to make much of Jesus and show that He is so much better than “Santa.” The gospel shows us how Jesus, in every way, surpasses jolly St. Nick.

SPOILER ALERT: There’s one obvious way Jesus is better than Santa Claus: Jesus is very much real, and Santa is not. While Santa represents St. Nicholas, who was real, and who was a godly man who was known for his generosity, the modern Santa Claus doesn’t exist. But Santa does represent, for many people, how we understand reality and different aspects of it, such as “being good vs. being bad,” our ideas of reward vs. punishment, and for some, even how we view God. The ideas and belief that sustain the idea of Santa Claus are important to understand and examine so we can show others that Jesus is so much better and that our hope is in the real Son of God.

To clarify, I’m not knocking anyone who lets their kids believe in Santa. If Santa is seen merely as a symbol of generosity and joy, and you want your kids to get a picture with Santa and partake of Christmas activities with their friends and classmates, go ahead. But as a Christian parent, you do have a responsibility to show and teach your children that Jesus is better than Santa Claus. You do have a responsibility to lead them to desire and love Jesus more than they do Santa Claus.

Reason #1 Jesus is better than Santa: Santa teaches kids to be good in order to get presents and promises bad kids that they’ll get coal in their stocking. Jesus came to forgive bad children and bad adults, and, though we don’t deserve it, He rewards us with eternal life and fellowship with God.

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why…Santa Claus is coming to town.” I’m not sure who wrote this song, and I’m not sure what they did for a living, but I feel it’s safe to assume they didn’t spend a lot of time around kids. Children cry and pout….a lot. They don’t watch out, rather, they do what they want to do. Children, as great as they are, are sinners. And if Santa was real and lived up to his decree in this song, and others, no child would receive Christmas presents.

What about Jesus?

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”–Rom. 5:8

While we were actively disobeying God and telling Him “no,” God the Son came and gave His life for us on the cross, taking all of our sin and the wrath of God and laying it in the grave. Santa cannot and did not do that. Jesus gives grace to bad people, which is all of us.

Reason #2 Jesus is better than Santa: Santa gives us stuff. Jesus gives us Himself.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”–John 10:10-11

I write my posts a day early, so as I’m typing this, it’s 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve (I know, Santa won’t come until I go to sleep…working on it). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about opening presents tomorrow. I like receiving gifts as much as anyone. But 80 years from now, if I’m still kicking at 105, I doubt those gifts will be useful. And while that won’t stop me from being grateful to my Mom and others who sacrifice of their own resources to give me things I don’t deserve, and won’t stop me from using and enjoying the gifts now, the reality of eternity makes me realize that Jesus is better than any gift.

He lays His life down for us so we can be forgiven, so we can know God. He gives us His righteousness, and His body, so we can be saved, and then after He rises from the grave, He comes and leads us in new life, eternal life.

That skateboard Santa’s bringing just doesn’t compare.

Reason #3 Jesus is better than Santa: Santa makes a list and checks it twice, to make sure we’ve “earned” our presents. In Christ, there are no such lists.

Santa goes to great lengths to make sure bad kids don’t get presents, according to those lyrics. He’s going to check it twice, just to make sure someone undeserving doesn’t sneak his or her way on there.

But in Christ, we have forgiveness. Our sins are gone, and we have been redeemed. Jesus doesn’t just know when we’re sleeping or when we’re awake…He knows the depths of our hearts and the wickedness of our sin, and He still chose to die for us. 

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”–Eph. 1:7

In Christ, there is no list. We have been forgiven; we are loved, just as we are. There is no coal in the stocking. There is no command to be good in order to get presents, but rather a promise that we who are in Christ have received “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” by God’s grace, not our efforts. Now, we obey God because He loves us, not in order to get “stuff.”

The “Christmas spirit” is, because of Jesus, not Santa, one of joy and grace and love, because God has loved us when we did not love Him. Remember that this Christmas. Point your kids, and point yourself, to Jesus, who is so much better than Santa.

Merry Christmas!

Lord, may we worship you this Christmas. May we remember that you are the greatest gift. May we remember that you are better than “Santa,” so much better than legalism and any effort to be good to get something from you. May we remember your grace and reflect it to others.

God bless,

Neal E.

Enjoying God’s Gifts Without Making Them God

It’s a tough question for the believer: How do we enjoy God’s gift without falling into idolatry?

Between the blessings of food, jobs, entertainment, and even relationships, how do we enjoy the things God allows us to enjoy without turning them into idols? Let’s see what Scripture has to say.

In Romans 14:5, Paul charges the believers in Rome to be fully convinced of God’s will for their lives “in their own minds,” especially in regards to what we might call “gray areas.” For the Romans, this centered around eating food that was offered to idols. “Stronger” believers understood that because the false Roman gods weren’t actually alive, the food was fine to eat, whereas weaker believers felt like it was wrong to eat. Paul’s command: Do what the Lord leads you to do, and don’t judge other believers for it.

When it comes to things like entertainment, different foods and drinks, and how much of it we should consume, there are clear Scriptural guidelines, but there is also room to simply do what you feel like best honors the Lord and shows His greatness. If you feel like God has called you to abstain from Netflix, or watching sports on Sunday, then follow the Lord, not popular culture.

Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters. for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.“–Matt. 6:24

While this passage directly deals with money, which is one of God’s gifts, the principle of not serving the gifts God gives us helps us understand how to approach the “stuff” of our lives.We want to enjoy God’s gifts, because doing so honors Him. When God allows you to take a day off and go fishing, or take a day off to take your kid to a baseball game, or God allows you to (fill in the blank with your favorite relaxing hobby/activity), you ought to worship God for that. I recently had a three-day weekend where I went to two baseball games, and spent the Monday watching more baseball. It was a wonderful time enjoying my favorite sport with my friends and family. And while I certainly was not faultless in regards to indulgence in this area, I can say I praised God for those three days.

But again, I am not faultless. I began to overindulge, and found myself spending too much time with baseball, especially on the third day of my three-day weekend. I had let a gift turn into an idol, and had to repent. For you, it may be spending an exorbitant amount of time on social media, or watching another sport, or even spending too much time at the office. Good things can become god things very quickly if we aren’t carefully seeking God’s will for them in our lives. Idolatry begins when God begins to exit the picture, and we begin to let the gifts direct our lives, instead of the gift-giver.

We must remember where our gifts come from. James 1:17 says that every good gift is from above, that is, it is from God. God gives us good things, not to magnify and exalt the thing, but to magnify and exalt Himself!

Lastly, treat God’s gifts as that–gifts. As stated before, enjoy them, thank God for them, and see God’s grace in giving you good gifts. But use God’s gifts God’s way–don’t worship them, worship God.

How do we do this? By remembering the greatest gift God gives–Himself, in the person and through the work of His Son Jesus Christ. Because Christ has died for us and has brought us back to the Father, we can enjoy good gifts from a good Father, and let them lead us, not to idolatrous worship of worldly pleasures, but to eternal worship of our gracious God.

Lord, may we enjoy your gifts. May we thank you for them. May we enjoy you through your gifts, thanking you for your grace toward us. May we not turn your gifts into false gods and idols that would keep us from worshiping and finding our deepest joy and satisfaction in you.

God bless,

Neal E.