Around this time of year life gets very busy, and the number of lists I write increases:
- shopping lists
- to-do lists
- a wish list (for Christmas presents)
- Santa’s ‘Naughty and Nice’ list
- and the list goes on . . . (excuse the pun!)
The one list I want to focus on in particular is the ‘Naughty and Nice’ list.
Now, I have many problems with Santa Claus or Father Christmas. I liked the idea when I was a child – let’s face it, if someone wants to give you gifts, I wasn’t going to complain! But now as a parent and a church leader I do have certain issues. However I am not going to discuss all of them here. The one I want to focus on is Santa’s ‘Naughty and Nice’ list.
Grace and Santa Claus
For me, the emphasis parents place on this list as a way to try to modify their children’s behaviour does not reflect the biblical concept of grace that the festive season actually celebrates.
We are told “If you are naughty, you won’t get a gift. If you are good, Santa will bring you lots of presents!” You have to qualify for a reward by being good. Only good children are rewarded, not bad ones. Although this is said, I am yet to meet a parent who actually follows through with this threat – Father Christmas always seems to pay a visit regardless of the children’s actual behaviour.
Now Jesus does the exact opposite!
In fact the Bible tells us that the greatest gift of all – forgiveness from sin and reconciliation with God is given to those on the naughty list! Jesus came for those on the naughty list.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:17
Grace is an undeserved gift given out of the deep love God has for us. You can not do anything to make Him love you more, or less. Nothing that you’ve done will make him close the door to you. You can not earn God’s love by being good. Nor can you earn his gift of salvation by being good. He has come to save the naughty and the bad.
So should we be reinforcing the idea that only good people deserve receiving gifts?
Jesus gives the best gift of all to everyone, whether they are on the naughty list or not.
So no matter which list you believe you should be on – Jesus has a gift just for you – His love and forgiveness – even if you don’t deserve it, He gives it to you anyway.
The question is – are you going to receive it?