What should Christians do with Santa?
I am always asked this time of year, “What should Christians do with Santa?” In America, Christmas has become a time of incredible materialism that is driven by companies doing whatever they can to take advantage of holiday shopping, and Santa Claus has become the symbol of this consumerism. Therefore, some Christian families feel that Santa takes the focus of Christmas away from Jesus. So what should Christians do?
A few years ago, Mark Driscoll, a pastor in Seattle, wrote a wonderful article on the broader idea of how should Christians interact with culture. He basically concluded that Christians can do one of three things with the culture, we can reject it, we can receive it, or we can redeem it. There is no getting away from Santa; he has become a huge part of the American Christmas. So as Christians, we can either reject the idea of Santa, receive it, or redeem it.
We can reject Santa and keep our children sheltered from the notion, but let’s be honest, this is impossible and will likely lead to some resentment in your child’s heart for being left out. We can receive Santa along with American consumerism, but where do you draw the line? Or we as Christians can redeem the idea of Santa. The world has flavored Christ- mas in our culture to be a day of crazed consumerism and shopping, Christians must begin asking how are we as Christians going to take back the flavor of this day? I think the better question for Christians to ask is, “How should we celebrate Christmas, or Halloween, or Easter or any other holiday in a way that honors God?”
In Christ, we are not called to live some days for God’s glory, have a few days of sin, and then live a bunch of days somewhere in between; we are called to redeem every day, every hour, for the glory of God.
As a parent, rather than spending a lot of effort rejecting the culture, I would encourage you to be intentional about spending time focusing your children on the miracle of the incarnation. Teach them of God’s love, that the Father would in an incredible act of love send his son. Teach them of the humility of Christ that he, though being God, was willing to come and to be born as a baby. This truly is the greatest gift of all.
My wife and I are raising our first child, this is our first Christmas with her and at this point she is more interested in putting ornaments in her mouth than she is in Santa Claus. In a few years though, when she comes of age, I do not think I am going to tell her that Santa is a magic elf that comes to our good children’s houses on Christmas Eve. However, I do think I will let her enjoy Santa as a symbol of Christmas and if she wants to sit on his lap and make a special wish I don’t think I will stop her. But further than that, I will explain to her that Santa became the symbol of Christmas because he, Saint Nicholas, was a fourth century church leader that fought to defend the deity of Jesus. He was so convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, and that God’s giving Jesus to us was the greatest gift of all, that he began to give presents at Christmas time to teach his people about God’s grace. In this explanation my prayer is that my wife and I can redeem the culture for our daughter. By the virtue of being an American, she will have a lot of energy for Santa our goal is to funnel that energy toward Christ.
Redeeming the culture isn’t difficult it just takes some intentional thought and effort. The idea of Santa is a big thing in the life of children. Many of us still remember going to sit on Santa’s lap as children and reading to him our long Christmas list. As a parent, you have a golden opportunity to shape that energy of your child into something that is God honoring and eternal. Don’t waste this Christmas season redeem that day for the glory of Christ.