Our Top 5 Posts of February
Sat Mar 08, 2014
Resurgence Roundup, 3/7/14
Fri Mar 07, 2014
How to Replant a Church, Part 5: Rally Your Troops
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Bubba Jennings
The 4 Pillars of Pastoral Work
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Dave Bruskas
10 Ideas For Keeping Lent
Wed Mar 05, 2014
by Winfield Bevins
Jesus Ripped Up Santa's List
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - Ephesians 2:8
As a family, we are in the midst of celebrating the Christmas season which includes viewing all the holiday classics (Heat Miser is my favorite character) and reading all the old standbys and new favorites. My daughter has checked out 116 Christmas titles from the library with every variation on the nativity story you can imagine. Narrators to the events of that holy night have included the voice of a snowman, a mouse, and even a seahorse.
The shelves overflow with Santa stories ranging from the troubles he encounters when he goes digital with the naughty or nice list to the ways he determines who is naughty or nice. The Santa books far outweigh the nativity books because Santa is a guy we can get our heads around…we like the list. We like the neat and tidy categories that the list offers and the obvious ramifications of our behavior.
We have been given a Savior who drenches us in his righteousness and does not add up our deeds – good or bad – into a tally for a quantifiable list.
We have even successfully marketed a $30 “helper” (watch the video) to make sure we manipulate our children into good behavior so they can make the list—if only for those precious 24 days when the elf is watching. They are described as:
Excellent listeners and even better observers, these scout elves are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus. Although they cannot be touched, or else they may lose their magic, the elf will always listen and relay messages back to Santa. Taking in all the day-to-day activities around the house, no good deed goes unnoticed; these scout elves take their job seriously.
Why we are willing to trust the pointy-eared gnome and not the baby in the manger?
Naughty or Nice?
Certainly we have a hard time determining if someone is naughty or nice. It’s not as simple as, “All Christians go on the nice list and all those other guys, the heathens? Clearly, they deserve a spot on the dreaded naughty list.”
The Bible makes it simple though: we all make the naughty list. None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). That’s bad news.
The Gift of Good News
The good news is that, despite our list making tendencies and legalistic leanings, the list was crushed by the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is the only one who made the list. Because he made the list, we are given the gift of him. His righteousness, his perfection, and his “niceness” are bestowed upon us with list-shattering grace.
Don’t Diminish the Babe into a Toy
We are offered something much greater than a shelf-bound elf that will hopefully report our good deeds to the red-suited guy up north so we can receive blessings. We are offered the grace of God who appeared in a lowly manger as a helpless baby. Sometimes it seems easier to hang our hopes on the elf.
Grace Doesn’t Make Sense
We have been given a Savior who drenches us in his righteousness and does not add up our deeds – good or bad – into a tally for a quantifiable list. It never makes sense in the economy of good=blessing, bad=coal. By grace, our badness becomes righteousness. Our “goodness” often needs to be repented of because it dismissed the necessity of Christ.
Everything about this gift of Jesus given at Christmas is radical—turning bad into good, babes into kings, legalistic lists into glorious grace. Merry Christmas!