By Tyson Thorne

December 19, 2018

BiM26 large

I think I heard it first on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News, a story of a substitute teacher who told his first-grade class that Santa Claus isn't real. Most think it monstrous that a person trusted to attend to children would destroy their joy, but there is a growing group of individuals who applaud his effort. Dr. David Johnson wrote in Psychology Today (December 12, 2012) that parents should stop telling the Santa Claus lie because " (1) It's an unjustified lie, (2) it risks damaging your parental trustworthiness and (3) it encourages credulity and ill-motivated behavior."

Earlier this week I was speaking to a parent who asked me if it was justifiable to lie to children about Santa Claus. I asked, "What is the purpose of Christmas?" The response was a common one, "I don't know. To spread good will and cheer, I guess." "No," I explained, "the purpose is to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God." After receiving an eye-roll she replied, "Of course, but what does Santa have to do with Jesus?"

"Don't think of Santa Claus as a lie," I advised, "think of him as a metaphor. Santa always welcomes children, almost as joyously as Jesus does (Matthew 19.14). Santa gives a little of himself every year to the people of the world; Jesus gave his life once for all to bring peace between humanity and God (Hebrews 9.28; Ephesians 2.15). Santa promotes Christmas spirit; Jesus gave to us the Holy Spirit (John 15.16). Finally, Santa has a book listing everyone who is naughty or nice; Jesus has a book too, the Book of Life (Luke 10.20), and everyone should hope to be on that list!"

I understand there is a lot to not like about Christmas. Santa seems to steal the show, the commercialism of the season encourages greed and envy, and most of us know Jesus wasn't born on December 25th. Yet every time a nativity scene falls under attack by atheist organizations we are reminded that Christmas is more than a holiday, it is a high holy day intended to celebrate the incarnation of God. That singular truth makes Christmas worth celebrating, despite all the wars and temptations to do everything but celebrate Jesus.

The incarnation is one of the most remarkable events in all of history, if not the most. God became man to live among us, his people. The baby Jesus that is so talked about this time of year by people with small children may have been vulnerable from a certain point of view, but he was also 100 percent God. This mystery, that Jesus was both fully man and fully God, is something theologians call the hypo static union, but no matter its terminology it remains a great mystery and a great blessing.

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