What should Chris­tians do with Santa?

The Covington News - - RELIGION - JA­SON DEES COLUM­NIST Ja­son Dees is a grate­ful fol­lower of Je­sus Christ, the hus­band of Paige and the fa­ther of Emery Anna. He is also the se­nior pas­tor of First Bap­tist Church in Cov­ing­ton.

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.

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