Who is your focus?
The opinion expressed here is solely mine. There is no biblical reference I use for my belief, and I in no way mean to say that someone’s salvation is dependent upon their belief. I felt led to write and this is what came out.
This time of year is so special. The birth of the Messiah. Yet, so many become focused on the “magic” of Christmas. This magical being who flies around in a sleigh giving children massive amounts of toys for absolutely no reason. Parents spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars buying presents for their children on Christmas. The question must be asked … Why? Some rationalize their over spending with “well, there really was a St. Nick who gave presents”. But, do they really know the story of St. Nicholas?
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
Do you notice that there is never mention that he gave presents on Christmas, never mention that he gave in excess? He simply followed the command to give. He was absolutely a good man, and one who undoubtedly did great things. But, just as the focus has come off of Christ, the focus that was placed on him has been distorted as well!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I in no way mean to say that you shouldn’t buy your children gifts on Christmas. But, we really need to evaluate why we are buying these presents. And, are we buying gifts all year round and then going overboard at Christmas?
I know I have a tendency to buy a “small” gift every time we go to the store, all year round. Sometimes if there is a little extra cash the present will be a little bigger. While we’re on vacation, while we’re at the grocery store, when our parents come to visit. There are gifts every single day that our children are receiving. It’s actually giving them this idea that they are “entitled” to gifts. That they are just so good and special that they should receive gifts.
Christmas is about the Ultimate Gift—the gift of our Salvation through the birth of Jesus Christ. What more could we ever hope to give or receive except the good news of the gospel? Jesus Saves—in that lies the only real and true gift.
We are not doing Santa this year. The children have been told that he is a character, one dramatized by this fallen world. One created to get people to the store and spend money they really don’t have, and if they do have, they should be spending for the Kingdom and not themselves. We’ve found persecution come our way because of this decision. And I understand the mindset that people have. I too once believed it was harmless to believe in Santa. Where I am in my faith today, I feel terrible lying, giving, taking away from the true meaning of this day. I feel convicted buying massive amounts of presents for no reason. And truthfully, I believe He allowed us to enter into the financial strain we are presently in so we COULDN’T buy excessively this year. It forced me to WAKE UP. I do not want any other god except the true and holy God. I do not want to put anything or anyone before His birth.
You may disagree, and I would say to you, “okay”. It’s not a reason to take offense. It’s not a reason to get upset. It really comes down to where someone wants to put their faith. My faith is only in Christ. I don’t feel right doing Santa. I have not forbidden my children to speak of him. I have not told my children they should judge others for believing in him. If you ask them what they believe, they will answer, “We believe in God”. They are welcome to watch a movie about Santa, they are welcome to make up stories about Santa. But, they know that Santa will not be bringing gifts down our chimney this year.
The miraculous birth of Jesus Christ holds its own magical power!
God -- That is what we have placed our hope in, our faith in, and that is where our joy comes from.