What does Santa Claus do on the 364 days that he’s not delivering presents to American children around the world?
This peculiar question slipped into mind during the holiday season. It seems Santa is just so hyped up during Christmastime that strange questions like these begin plaguing your mind. In fact, Santa is so hyped up many Christians fear that focus on Santa Claus is overtaking our focus on the birth of Jesus Christ.
It’s a fair concern. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about a problem that only comes up every holiday season. Especially when many Christians, myself included, treat Jesus Christ like some kind of Santa Claus 2.0 every single day of the year.
Santa Claus 2.0’s Naughty List
The main parallel that Christians draw between Jesus and Santa Claus is the idea of the naughty list. That in the same way Santa keeps a list of those who are naughty and nice, Jesus keeps track of who did what and rewards them accordingly. And while it is true that we will eventually receive what we deserve (II Corinthians 5:20), this idea can be quickly transformed into an “instant karma” mindset.
This mistake is easier to make than you think. Let’s say you haven’t read your Bible in a while. At the same time, you happen to find yourself in deep financial trouble. So you decide to start reading your Bible again expecting God to bless you with financial safety. Another instance could be when you suffer a terrible accident and immediately wonder what sin caused God to rain his wrath down upon you.
Reducing Jesus to an all-powerful Santa Claus 2.0 takes away from his personal desire to be merciful and give grace (Hebrews 2:17). In fact, it even places us on a pedestal by expecting Him to reward us for our goodness despite our utter worthlessness without Him (Romans 3:10-12). Jesus is more than an all-powerful being. He also loves us.
There is one other significant way that Christians treat Jesus like Santa Claus 2.0. It’s subtler but also more dangerous.
Celebrating Santa Claus
What does Santa Claus do throughout the year? Does he ski or skate? Maybe some ice-fishing? Or does he retire to the Bahamas. You see, nobody knows. Everybody cares about Santa Claus during Christmastime, but nobody cares about him throughout the year. To put it simply, we care about him only when we need him. And that’s how many of us Christians treat Jesus Christ.
He only pops into our heads on Sunday morning or when a religious topic intrudes on our day. We beg for his forgiveness after we sin, but don’t think about him when we are about to. We praise Him in church, but never on the street. A cry toward Christ is used as a last resort, but never is it given precedence.
It’s a lifestyle called practical atheism. A way of living that, according to R.C. Sproul, “appears when we live as if there were no God.” And it’s prevalent among Christians. Many say true Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. But a relationship where man only notices God when he wants something is not a relationship of love. It’s a parasitic relationship.
How can we expect to grow in our love for God when we only love Him for His blessings? God deserves our honor and praise not only for what He has done for us, but also just because of who He is. For Jesus Christ is so much more than Santa Claus 2.0