Christmas is here, and with it comes the challenge some Christian parents face in regards to how to deal with Santa Clause? Do we mention Santa? Do we talk about the historical Saint Nick? How about the reindeer, presents, and Elves! When Brittany and I first had Liam it seemed like the opinions, perspectives, and thoughts were everywhere and we were faced with the somewhat daunting task of making a decision for our family. In all honesty, we are in a different place now than we were four years ago. We first made the decision that we would not engage Santa in any way. We felt that putting any emphasis on Santa would distract our kids from Jesus.
It wasn’t soon after that I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll about how we engage our culture. Driscoll states that we can accept, reject, or redeem culture. As I began to evaluate how we engaged Santa it seemed that our first approach, to reject, was not as practical or beneficial as we initially thought. In fact, in some ways it was harmful. Ultimately, I would encourage every parent to do what is best for their children in light of the Gospel. For Brittany and I, this meant changing our approach to redeeming the concept of Santa. When I say redeem it, I mean that we can take the concept, identify aspects that are helpful and in some ways actually point us to Jesus. In the same way we can take aspects that can be harmful and address them. Here are three reasons Brittany and I choose to redeem the concept of Santa.
Santa Provides An Opportunity to Engage Culture In A Meaningful Way
As we attempted to reject Santa, we faced the overwhelming challenge of all the Santa discussions, commercials, videos, and Santa imposters at the mall. How were we going to reject Santa but have our kids see it everywhere they turned? Then It dawned on us, what an incredible way for us to engage our culture through something that is so saturated at Christmas time! You don’t have to have any religious background to celebrate Santa. We have an opportunity to utilize Santa as a missional bridge to engage our loved ones and neighbors with the beautiful gospel message of Christ.
One of the common objections and resentment’s that I hear about Christians from non Christians is the perception that Christians can’t relate. It almost feels like Christians live in some other galaxy. We have an opportunity to show our culture and society that we are involved within culture and care about the development of culture within our society. In fact, this very much resembles how we are made in the likeness and image of God, Who after speaking all creation into existence, does not step back and out of human history. Rather, He steps into human history humbling himself to human flesh in order to engage and love humanity in the most personal and intimate way possible. As Hollywood began to produce Biblical epics and put them on the big screen I discussed how our engaging with theses movies are actually helpful and not harmful.
Santa Provides Us With An Opportunity To Point To Jesus
Another serious problem Brittany and I faced was the reality that there was some hypocrisy in how we handled Santa. For instance, my kids love Avengers, Spiderman, Superman, Star Wars, anything that has good guys and bad guys they are into. I don’t reject these things. In fact, I love them, so I engage with them and pretend and play and we enjoy the story line of good and evil and watch how good always prevails. To take it a step further, how many of us have been to Disney Land? Here we are grown adults with our children taking pictures next to Mickey and other Disney characters. Is that wrong? No! For us, Santa falls in the same category. A fictional character similar to Superman or Batman who has some historical roots.
I love Hebrews 3 and I think as we read through the Bible we find that the common theme is simply, Jesus is better. One of the things I try to do with my boys is point out while we are watching super hero cartoons that as awesome as superman is, he is pretend and not real. However, we have a real Jesus who conquered sin and death and did real miracles who loves us! We have someone who is far better and real! As we talk about Santa and how people love the fact that he brings gifts, what a great way to say that there is someone even better than Santa. Jesus came and gave us the perfect give of salvation. One of the most important things that we can do is know who Jesus is.
Santa Can Encourage Our God Given Gifts Of Imagination
God who is the definition of creative, gave us creative minds. It’s not a bad thing to exercise this creativity. In fact, as adults I think we have lost some of the wonder of imagination. When I watch my boys play and see them tie a towel around their neck as a cape and pick up whatever is around them as weapons and super hero gadgets I am reminded of how important imagination is for us. In fact, so much of what is in the Bible requires us to use our imagination as we wait in eager anticipation for coming of Christ. What does Heaven look like? What will our bodies look like? What do relationships look like in Heaven? Exercising our imagination now and allowing our children to exercise within some safe boundaries will only help them as they engage the scriptures.
Idolatry Can Be Found In Anything
Ultimately, the fear we had was of idolatry. We were afraid that Santa would steal the attention from Jesus and his birth. The reality is, there is so much idolatry going on in our lives all the time. Idolatry can be anything and will always rob us of the joy of Christ. The issue is never the object of our attention, rather our inner motivation. What an incredible opportunity to teach our kids that we can enjoy fun things which in turn cause us to be stirred up in our affections for Jesus.