Converting Santa

Let’s be honest: there is nothing more legalistic about the Christmas season than Santa Claus. Have you ever paid attention to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”?


“You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout

I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town

He's making a list

He's checking it twice

He's going to find out

Who's naughty and nice, Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you're sleeping

He knows when you're awake

He knows when you've been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake!”


I don’t care how popular or traditional this song may be. It seems very clear to me that Santa never had a chat with the apostle Paul or Martin Luther, and thus never got the memo about righteousness by faith. Through this song, we are all guilty of teaching young and old that the gifts that Christmas brings are to be earned, deserved, purchased with good behavior. You may claim this is nothing more than a silly song. As silly as it may be, I want to suggest to you that the song also reveals how deeply rooted is our struggle to accept God’s grace filled and generous love. It is so bad that we can’t even let our children simply delight and rejoice in a gift. We need them to know that what they hold in their hands is a reward for their year long good and convenient deeds.


My friends, it is clear to me that Santa needs to be converted. Maybe we do too. At least, before we turn our little ones into pharisees. May I suggest making the following new lyrics to “Jesus love me”, written by the fantastic band “Slugs and Bugs” our new Christmas anthem. Check them out:


“Jesus loves me when I’m good

When I act just like I should

When I say thank you and please

Brush my teeth and wash my knees.

Jesus loves me when I’m bad

When I talk back to my dad

When I stomp and whine and pout

(And) poke my bottom lip right out

Yes Jesus loves me

Yes Jesus loves me

Yes Jesus loves me

The Bible tells me so.”


Why should this song dethrone “Santa Claus is coming to Town”? Because it reminds us that the greatest gift of Christmas, Jesus, was not given to the worthy but to the unworthy, nor to the godly but to the undoubtedly unworthy. Jesus was not earned by humanity nor deserved. He was a gift of grace. I could have never behaved well enough, nor stack up enough merits or money to purchase Him. I could only receive Jesus if given as a graceful, free gift. When I accept this, in my mind and heart, I am able to approach the Babe in the Manger with humility, instead of pride, and with thankfulness, instead of fear. Humility when realizing my utter helplessness, and joy when realizing the immensity of God’s gift in Christmas, are the avenues through which Christ can enter our hearts and shine his light in and through us.


All of this to say: this Christmas, make sure to convert Santa. He too needs to hear about the Good News of the Gospel!

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