I recently saw a video of a man claiming to be a pastor walk in to a mall filled with families and children waiting in line to see ‘Santa.’ He then proceeded to yell out that Santa was not real to these families, while also trying to preach Jesus to them. So, let’s tackle this issue: Christians, Santa, and Evangelism at the mall.
The Reality of Santa
First, let’s take a brief look at history. Santa was real, just not how we portray him today. While there are many stories about the man, this much we know is true. He was a Bishop in the fourth century named St. Nicholas, in what we now call Turkey.
He was also very generous with anonymous gifts and helping the poor. The “spirit” of St. Nick lives on at Christmas time through generosity, kindness, and love. So in one sense parents are not lying to their children.
Forcing Christ Down Someone’s Throat
Next, while we should expect those with the body of Christ to adhere to the Bible and preach Christ over everything else, you can’t expect non-Christians to act and believe like Christians. This pastor had no way of knowing who in this line was a Christ follower and who was not.
To force Christ down someone’s throat as he did only gives Jesus a bad name, and his name becomes sour in their mouths rather than sweet like honey. There are ways to follow Jesus without being a jerk.
Love would not present the Gospel in this way
As Christians we are called to preach the truth in love. What is love? Paul tells us:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This was not preaching the truth in love. He knew he was going to make all of these families angry (not being kind or patient). This was preaching a personal agenda (seeking his own). I ask, why else did he have to video himself “evangelizing”? (bragging and arrogance?)
Many Christians have their “pet peeves” about following Christ including things like: alcohol, swearing, doctrines, marital roles, and yes, even Santa.
This pastor could have made himself available to meet with parents and families individually or even in small groups to discuss it in a more personal way. Again, you cannot force someone to believe the same way as you. Forcing Jesus on someone makes them want to throat punch you more than it makes them want to accept Christ.
What To Do Now
Yes it’s true. In America we have commercialized, stamped, and labeled Christmas for sale. We have sold the meaning of Christmas to earn a dollar. We have squeezed the life out of the spirit of Christmas, for all the gifts we can get. We have even been guilty of placing Santa above Christ at times.
So how do you get back to the centrality of Christ at Christmas?
You teach your children that Christmas is all about Christ at home first. You stop participating in the madness of commercialization and the race for more things. You stop comparing yourself, and the amount or cost of your gifts, to other’s, because comparison is the thief of joy.
You stop making Christmas about getting gifts, and more about experiences, fellowship, and giving. We as individuals have to honor Christ both as head, and the body at home first.
Don’t just tell people that Christmas is all about Christ; show them. The greatest witness is a life that lives what it preaches.
Begin taking the initiative with your own home or a small group of families, and allow the ripple in the waters to become a tidal wave. You can make Christmas meaningful without overspending.
Saints, please don’t allow Christmas to become about Santa or even getting gifts, and please don’t allow yourself to become this type of evangelist. Present Christ through love and a life well lived in what it preaches.
At the end of the day, this man is part of the body of Christ. You or I may not like the way he presented Christ, but it is still our job to love him as Christ loves us.
Let the spark of Christ’s centrality at Christmas begin first in your home, and then it can set the world on fire.