Home > Culture > Jesus is a Better Santa

Jesus is a Better Santa

As a kid there were few things I anticipated more than Christmas.  The regular family celebration, the hearty meal we ate together and the constant curiosity about what gifts I would get made the holiday fun.  I couldn’t wait to rip open the wrapping paper and see whether or not “Santa” got my requests just right.

Santa’s Subtle Side-Effects

Like me, the anticipation of Santa’s arrival is a thrill for many kids.  The unintentional side affects of his story on the other hand are not. Santa’s story, we are told, is that he is the all-seeing, present giver who watches our every move to see whether or not we’ve been naughty or nice.  The nice kids get presents, the naughty ones get coal.

As a result, the kids whose families can afford to get them everything on their wish list grow up entitled, believing that they deserve the best presents and privileges because they are “good kids”.  As adults, they become the ones who look down on the rest of the world for not being good enough or they find themselves on a treadmill of people pleasing as they attempt to prove that they really are as good as they were told they should be.

Likewise, kids who grow up without a well-connected family tradition are left wondering what they did wrong.  Christmas becomes more of a hell-day than a holiday.  The stockings are empty, dad’s with his new girlfriend, the extended family didn’t want to make the drive again and mom can’t afford a tree, let alone presents to put under it.  Christmas is just another day to be demoralized and disappointed.  As adults, they become the ones who wonder why they can never be good enough for that promotion, that relationship or the love and acceptance of people who don’t seem to care.

Sadly, what subtly gets taught is that some people are “good enough,” while others are not.  Thanks to Santa, everyone’s left wondering whether or not they measure up.

Putting Santa in his Place

jesus vs. santa

Image found via Google search “Jesus vs. Santa” via http://www.frumforum.com/jesus-vs-santa

Santa is a fun Christmas character to enjoy, but his story is not one worth building your life on.  The story of Jesus, however, is.

In Matthew 1:21-23 an angel appears to Joseph (the husband-to-be of Jesus’ mother Mary) and says, “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

In other words, the story of Christmas is that God came to live with us as Jesus so that, through Jesus, we could live with God. Santa gives gifts to us if we are good, while Jesus is God’s gift for us even when we’re not good. (Romans 5:8)

With Santa we’re left desperately trying to prove that we are worthy to be loved.  With Jesus we’re left comforted by the gift of God’s love.

With Santa we have to “earn” approval by our good works.  With Jesus we can “receive” God’s approval through Christ’s good work.

With Santa we’re constantly concerned with what we’ve done wrong.  With Jesus we can be thankful for what he did right.

The good news is, Christmas is not about Santa, it’s about Jesus.  It’s the good news that God entered into our hurts, pains, failures, mistakes and disappointments to do life with us as the man Christ Jesus.  And it’s the even better news that Jesus took the weight of those pains and disappointments on the cross (Hebrews 4:14-16), he rose from the dead and he gives us God’s unconditional love, approval and acceptance when we trust in Christ our Lord.  This then empowers us to a truly good life. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

  1. December 23, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Sure, it’s about Jesus first, but there’s nothing wrong with learning the real backstory of Santa too. St. Nicholas was a hugely important real early church father. He helped choose which books would be in the Bible! The more you study of early church history, the more you realize there were a multitude of saints and martyrs, and all their sacrifices have the power to enlighten and inspire.

    That’s how I moved on beyond the limits of the Coca-Cola Santa and the trap of materialist holidays.

    • December 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      I absolutely agree with you. In writing this post I actually debated whether or not to write about St. Nicholas, but chose the mythical “Santa” for the sake of the many people I know who feel like they need to earn God’s love.

      I would like to gain a better understanding of church history, though. Do you have any recommended reading?

      • December 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

        Fortunately there are many, and new ones come out each year. It’s only my opinion, but I think Henry Chadwick’s “The Early Church”, which is Volume 1 of the Penguin History of the Church is an excellent place to start. It’s short, and academically authoritative.

        As far as books about Nikolaos, there’s a great new one I liked: Adam C English’s “The Saint who would be Santa Claus:
        The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra”

        Thanks for your reply. Happy reading, and Merry Christmas!

  2. December 26, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    Those are great suggestions. I’ll check them out. Thanks!

  3. January 1, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    So very true…and very well written as well.

  4. January 1, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    I really enjoy your comparison. I had a real hard time deciding if I was going to do the Santa thing with my kids. In deciding to do so, I would have loved to have seen this before hand. I think I would have done it differently. The entitlement issue is something I am dealing with now with three teen girls, ages 18, 17 and 17. Thank you for sharing this.

    • January 3, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      As someone who has struggled with issues of entitlement myself, I feel for you. What would you have done differently?

  5. January 2, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    my favorite line from this post… “In other words, the story of Christmas is that God came to live with us as Jesus so that, through Jesus, we could live with God. Santa gives gifts to us if we are good, while Jesus is God’s gift for us even when we’re not good.”

    • January 3, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      I’m glad something stood out to you. It’s a truth that personally gives me a lot of confidence and joy.

  6. January 4, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Trevor you give very good points as to how come santa (satan) is considered more important than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The paganism of the world has always steered man away from the truth and the one who is the father of lies is at the head of making something look innocent to bring to pass evil.(John 8:42-44). We are all born into the worlds system Trevor and quickly learn of it’s ways with Christmastime along with other days set apart as more special than the next.God never ordained such ways and Jesus was always at odds against the world for he was not of the world nor are his people!
    (John 15:16-19) Ever notice Christmas is not in the bible or halloween…Pagan days of the world…
    Perhaps if you are searching for the truth this link will help you and others know the truth this coming December and understand why you feel the way you do. God Bless You.

    • Anonymous
      January 27, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      First of all, you should check into some ancient history, other than that spread by your ‘holy book’. Most of what you are reading is taken from pagan beliefs distorted to fit your thirteenth century ‘history’ of mythology. “Santa (satan)” wow! how distorted can your vision be from reality?

  7. January 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You wrote my heart into your blog about this! I so agree!

  8. January 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    I loved this. I have five kids and, as you see from my blog, love My Father. I was so impressed with how you articulated this message I actually feel inclined to do things differently next year…with the focus where it should be. Thanks!

    • January 17, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      That’s humbling. I wasn’t expecting anyone to get that much out of this post. Thanks for sharing. I do hope the Lord blesses the changes you have in mind.

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