by Steven Chan
It was reported in the UK press on Dec 12, 2013 that a vicar was forced to apologize to infuriated parents for telling a primary school assembly that Father Christmas or Santa Claus does not exist. Sometime last year, a similar episode happened when a man who was employed as Santa Claus in a commercial mall in the UK told a child that Santa Claus was not real and broke the heart of the little girl who cried and told her mother about it; the man was promptly fired by his employer.
It is quite amazing that people prefer a fable to the truth. The truth is that neither Santa Claus, nor Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer nor Christmas are mentioned in the Bible. Yet, they are portrayed by many as an integral part of the birth of Jesus Christ. When the apostle Paul wrote to the young preacher, Timothy, he warned that there will come a time when people will not be satisfied with the truth as revealed through Jesus and the apostles (John 17:8; 17:17) and instead, they will turn their ears to fables. That warning has proved to be appropriate.
Those favouring the celebration of Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ often argue that there’s nothing wrong with it because at least once a year, the entire world celebrates the birth of the Saviour of the world. Besides, the carols are so beautiful to hear; whose hearts will not be touched by the music and words of the carols? How can something that sounds so good be so wrong?
In his second epistle, the apostle Peter warned about “false teachers” arising from among the believers and “many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.”(2 Pet 2:1-2). The apostle warned that erroneous teachings and practices will cause “the way of truth” to be blasphemed or evil spoken of. But what has that got to with the seeming innocuous or harmless celebration of Christmas, including Father Christmas/Santa Claus with his sledge pulled along by Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, giving gifts in Christmas stockings hung near the fireplace or under the Christmas tree?
Perhaps we should stop and wonder that while Christmas is religiously celebrated every year by almost everyone, believers as well as unbelievers, most of all by shopping malls throughout the world, yet there are increasingly number of people in the same world that do not believe in Jesus Christ?
Could it be that because the world views Christmas merely as an occasion for partying and revelry coupled with the exchanging of gifts along with some good deeds, and that it has nothing to do with the truth? After all, who cares whether Father Christmas or Santa Claus is real or not, whether he moved around on a sleigh pulled by Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, called to service by Santa Claus to guide his sleigh because his nose was glowing so bright? Could it be also more about the fictitious character of Santa Claus coming to town with his gifts than about the incredible truth that God’s Son has come into the world to save man from their sins?
When the children grow up, overflowing with their deep devotion to Father Christmas, they will soon discover that Christmas was just beautiful fiction – nothing is real or true, and nothing needs to be real or true because it feels so good – and everyone is in love with the fiction and enjoys it for what it is. Then one may ask: what about the story of the Christ, the Saviour who was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by the prophet of old? The likelihood is that they will also view the birth of Jesus Christ as just another myth or fiction like Father Christmas/Santa Claus and Rudolph the reindeer with his shiny nose guiding the sleigh in the cold of the night.
When fiction/fable is mixed with truth, an incredibly potent ingredient has been introduced to dilute and devalue/depreciate the truth. And we wonder why people are not interested in the truth about Jesus Christ? Jesus is only appreciated as part of the fiction or folk-lore of Christmas with its red stockings, mistletoes, reindeers and Santa Claus. It is an uphill task to try to help people separate the fiction from the truth because it has been co-mingled and corrupted by fiction. Children cry when they were told the truth about Santa Claus; parents of these children are similarly infuriated because the truth was told. But what if someone were to tell the parents of these children that Jesus is truly the Son of God? Somewhere in Scotland, it was reported that parents sought to get the school to remove a person who tried to tell the students about the truth concerning Jesus as the Son of the living God. Truly, man love fable rather than the truth.
In Rom 1:25, the Bible observes that in spite of the clear and universal evidence for the truth (of God’s existence), man still prefer to “exchange the truth of God for the lie”! Fables are preferred to the truth. Man upholds fables rather than uphold the truth because the fables make one feels so good. Perhaps we should recall the day recorded in Gen 3:6 when Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” and she gave it her husband and he ate it – and sin came into the world and death spread to all man because all sinned! (Rom 5:12; 6:23) How can something that “looked so good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and can make one wise” be so wrong!? Because man needs to listen to God’s Word – which is the truth that sets man free (John 17:17; 8:32).
As the world celebrates Christmas, let’s remember the truth about Jesus Christ – that His birth (not on Christmas Day) was not an ordinary one because it fulfilled prophecies made hundred of years ago as stated in Isa 7:14 that he would be born of a virgin (Matt 1:21-23) and in Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2).
More importantly, let’s remember that His resurrection from the dead gives us a living hope of our inheritance reserved in heaven (I Pet 1:3-4) – and that we observes the Lord’s Supper as commanded by Jesus to proclaim His death until He comes again (I Cor 11:26; Heb 9:28). May we never exchange the truth of God for fables.