How to Avoid making Christ into Santa

I’ll never forget my childhood Christmas experiences.  My father, being a pastor, meant we didn’t have a whole lot by way of financial support, but my parents did Christmas right!  In fact, there’s few times that I have ridden in the car with my father when he wasn’t listening to talk radio that he wasn’t listening to Christmas music…all…year…long.  Like many of you, I love the Christmas season because of the nostalgia that wells up with in me in the month of December.  

As a kid, the worst present I could open was any type of clothing item.  In fact, I used to get in trouble by my parents because of the level of disinterest and lack of gratefulness for those types of gifts.  I wanted toys: trucks, cars, shiny lights, loud obnoxious sounds; the bigger the better.  Looking back on those times, the last thing I needed was more toys, what I really needed was clothes.  I was a rapidly expanding little boy with parents who financially struggled to keep up with my growth from a clothing standpoint.  Those gifts of clothes were a way for my parents to provide what I absolutely needed at that time…but I wanted more, a lot more, clothes were not enough for me to be satisfied.


Our last blog post ended with a poignant question: “…how can we avoid the trap of treating Jesus like a Cosmic Santa Claus?”  As a Christian, one saved by the selfless sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, we’ve been given the greatest gift that anyone could conceive.  This was a gift that every Christmas of your life and everyone else’s life combined couldn’t come close to comparing to.  It was a gift we did not earn, we did not ask for, and in fact, through the life we willingly chose to live rejected this gift.  But despite all of our best efforts, God, through His great Mercy, saved us to eternal life with Him.  How could we look at such a gift and ask for more?  How could we look at the gift of salvation and demand to see more from Jesus?  How could we stare at the one thing we absolutely could not live forever without with disinterest or lack of gratefulness and demand more from Jesus?

Oddly enough, I think the solution to this terrible problem within each of us is found in the question itself: “How can I demand more of Jesus than He’s already provided for me in the Gospel?”  How could I think about the grandeur of the Gospel and demand more?  Essentially, when we act and think this way, what we’re saying is that the Gospel wasn’t enough for us to place 100% of our trust in God’s sovereignty and providence. Is the Gospel enough to sustain your faith, even during times of suffering and testing?  

How can I demand more of Jesus than He’s already provided for me in the Gospel?”

I worked for a church in Raleigh, NC. during Grad School.  The particular pastor I worked for used to always say: “Preach the Gospel to yourself, everyday.”  I remember the first time I heard him say that, I was taken aback.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand what he meant by that.  He meant that literally.  Literally preach the Gospel to yourself everyday to remind yourself of who you were and who you are now because of Christ.  And when you do this, routinely, you’ll find that the true and lasting source of faith.  The Gospel reminds us that we have all we need in this life to persevere well and to pursue God’s will while we wait for Christ’s return. 

If you think about it, the Gospel always places our immediate needs and wants into perspective and ensures we can say, no matter what happens, “It is well with my soul.”  May we declare with our whole heart that Jesus is enough, I need nothing else.  Because of the Gospel, may we always be able to sing: Though You slay me, Yet I will praise You, Though You take from me, I will bless Your name, Though You ruin me, Still I will worship, Sing a song to the One who’s all I need.

Is Jesus, truly, all you need?