I have seen it day in and day out for years, and have even been this way myself at one time. And honestly, on occasion I still get a little frazzled when I can’t understand what God is doing, and when things don’t go the way I think they should, but I move past it and trust God knows what he is doing. You see, I’ve seen God do too much not to trust Him. The problem is, I’ve also seen too many Christians that don’t move past this stage. They are scarecrow Christians who want a Santa Claus Jesus.
Santa Claus Jesus
People claim Christ as their God, but only when things go their way. They pay no regard to God in the routine of day to day, but at the first sign of calamity or when disaster strikes, one of two things begins to happen (or both). One, the people who follow Christ begin to blame him for the hardship that life is bringing before them, or two they desperately begin to seek Him to take care of the problem.
This Santa Claus Jesus approach to faith shows the ignorant (uneducated) understanding we have about following Christ. They see him as a distant God, or “the man upstairs,” rather than as an indwelling Lord. You see there are 3 ways Christians try to make Jesus into Santa Claus. Let me show you.
1. We only acknowledge him when we want.
You see just like Santa some people tend to only think about him one time of year, while disregarding him the other 11 months. I remember when we had the previous presidential election. A couple of months prior to, all these signs started popping up around my town saying, “Pray America.”
The lack of care to pray for America the previous years was disheartening. The Christian community only wanted God to show up now that the election was coming up. But, I will say, I still see those signs around town, which is encouraging. Rather Proverbs 3:6, commands us to acknowledge Him in all our ways, not just when we want.
2. Santa is only a giver of good.
We only believe in and follow Santa for what good he can give us. Nobody says, I love Santa for all the coal he brings me. We want, want, want from Christ. We only want his good, but are unwilling to take the hardships that comes with life. Think of the upset child at Christmas when Santa doesn’t bring him something he wanted. What does he do? He complains. When Christ leads us to the cross, most followers tuck tail and run, because the cross is uncomfortable. Romans 8:17 tells us,
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Sometimes we must suffer with Him also, and many people are just unwilling to do that.
3. We want big return for little investment.
At Christmas we put out cookies and milk, (our little investment) and expect a big return, our presents. With Christ we make our little investment of saying grace over a meal, tossing a check in the offering plate, and reading our verse of the day that we got in our email. All the while we expect God to bring us a raise at work, perfect health for our families, and every prayer we mutter to be answered to our liking. But in actuality he tells us this,
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matt. 6:24-26
The deeper walk with Christ will cost you something. It will cost you your life. Don’t take my word for it. You just read Jesus’ words themselves.
I see some Christians standing like scarecrows. They are over-stuffed with an abundance of things (straw), and arms open wide ready to receive all the good that God has for them. But, the second the wind blows on they crumple over with fear and anger at God for not giving them sunshine and rainbows to stand under. The scarecrow has no substance to him. His stuffing is a facade that presents what’s not really there.
Jesus is not Santa Clause, He is not a genie in the sky who is there to give you whatever you want whenever you want. Following Christ is about devotion during the good times and the bad.
Christ is not looking for us to be devoted to Him when it is convenient for us. He calls us to a life devoted to Him day in and day out, when we rise in the morning till we lay our heads to rest at night.
When we face adversity we truly find out what a man is made of. You see, a diamond is simply coal that has withstood the heat and pressure, and came out better on the other side.
I know this is not a popular message, and that’s ok. The deep waters of Christ await those who desire to leave behind mediocrity and nominalism, and follow Christ in a greater way. Make it a point today to go deeper in your walk with Christ.