I’m currently writing a series of blog posts tackling the strange and sometimes ridiculous world of Christian belief. I’m not addressing any of our core beliefs; instead, this series is about things that creep into the sidelines of consciousness. In this case, I’m writing about the idea that God is like Santa for grown-ups.
All the these blog post ideas have come from people who read my blog and as a rule i’ve found a great deal to say about a subject. In this case, I must admit I’m at a loss as to where to start.
From the point of view of someone who doesn’t really understand God, I can sympathise with the idea that God is a bit like Santa. After all, the original Santa mythology is based on someone who loved God and acted in a beautifully Christian way.
The story goes that Bishop Nicholas was from what we know as Turkey today. He lived around 300 years after Jesus, and the excitement around his story is based on the way he met people’s needs. In one story, he gave bags of gold to a family in debt to save three girls from prostitution. In a more extreme tale, Nicholas, its said, raised three young boys back to life who had been brutally murdered.
If this version of Santa is what we’re talking about, then yeah, this isn’t a bad starting point to use for people to access belief in God.
Sadly, Saint Nicholas has almost completely been lost in time in favour of the Coca-cola Santa. To be frank, I think Coca-Cola Santa is magnificent. But if we match this guy up to St Nicholas or God, we do have a problem. You see, the God of the Bible isn’t stockpiling toys for us all. Instead, although he has spectacularly good gifts, he’s far more concerned with love for his people, saving us from a living hell and restoring heaven and earth to perfection.
This might be a clumsy metaphor, but for all the ways I could draw a comparison between Santa and God, there is only one overarching thought of worth I want to share.
Santa is, by definition, a glorious, magical distraction. The purpose of Santa in a consumerist world is to take us on a cyclical journey from celebration to celebration. He fuels the feeling of love, loss and hope and gives us an injection of hope that fits perfectly into the natural yearly rhythm. He’s wonderful and necessary, but Santa is deeply unfulfilling, and the impact he makes just about makes it to Christmas lunch before leaving us full, fat and anxious about debt.
On the other hand, God is not looking to take us on a cyclical journey from high to high. God is far more concerned with leading us through the darkness, walking with us in the desert, leading us out of the brokenness and into the fullness and joy of a relationship with him. He’s not expecting us to go backwards or around in a circle. Although God can cope with that behaviour from us, we’re not designed to be stuck in that kind of loop.
So for any Christian reading this, please enjoy Santa and allow your children the experience of magic. But don’t get caught in the cycle. Don’t get stuck.
And for anyone out there who isn’t a Christian and has thought Santa and God seem similar at times, let me encourage you; sometimes they do seem similar, but don’t let it cause you any stress. Christmas is a magical time, and it’s ok to enjoy it. Just remember that the original Santa dealt with the broken, and he worshipped Jesus.
If you’d like to find out more, do get in touch. And if you’d like a copy of my book, post a comment and like this post, and I’ll enter you into a prize draw to win one.