I’ve got nothing against Santa Claus really. He seems like he is a pretty good guy, rewarding good kids and sternly disapproving of the bad ones by dashing their hopes and dreams of Christmas morning treasures by issuing them a simple lump of coal. He lives in a place no one else really wants to live, maybe it is for privacy or maybe because he got the place super cheap.
He hires elves to work for him; he may or may not be an elf himself. I have heard he was but most of the movies show him as a regular-sized guy pretty much on the fat side.
He works hard all year to carefully craft the highest-quality toys to give to the kids that are deserving.
He gives coal to the bad kids. I have no clue where he gets the coal. Maybe he owns a few mines and sells the coal through the year to finance this enormous toy-making operation.
No, I’ve got nothing really against Santa, well, maybe one thing. He is fake. He doesn’t exist. He has never existed in anything even close to what the stories say. So yeah, I have a problem with Santa. He is not real.
I know, it is June. Why am I thinking about Santa? Well, I am not really thinking about Santa. I am thinking about Jesus.
From a young age I was taught about Jesus. I was taught about Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, John the Baptist and all the rest of the characters in the bible, big and small. I learned the stories of the perfect life of Jesus. I learned the stories of greatness and of failure of the other biblical characters. They are great stories. They inspire me and encourage me to be a better person.
But recently, I have found that no matter how much my life had changed because of God’s Word I still had a problem with it. Deep down, in a way I didn’t want to admit, I felt they were stories.
I didn’t think that they were stories like Santa Claus where one day I wake up and dad says, “Son, there really isn’t a Santa Claus. But be a good boy anyway because it is the right thing to do.” I believed these stories were from God but I always insulated them from true reality.
When I saw the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’, I saw gore and ugliness that events like whippings and crucifixion really entailed. It really didn’t quite break through for me, though. It was just recently that I began to change the way I viewed God’s Word.
These stories are real. I need to slow down and really picture what happened in them. Jesus didn’t die in perfect camera angles with perfect lighting and scene composition. He died the way men die. It was creepy. He was hanging on a cross, bleeding real blood. He felt pain, unbearable pain worse than I have ever experienced. It wasn’t a movie scene; it was a brutal example of how men can hurt other men.
John 19:18There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
There they nailed him to the cross…how many times have I read and heard those words and quickly registered a brief glimpse of what might have happened according to my semi-make-believe frame of mind.
But those words aren’t a fairy tale or a fable. Those are harsh reality. Men actually nailed, they took spikes of metal, and drove them through another man’s flesh and into a wooden beam. Blood poured out. Cries of anguish and groans of intense pain filled the air. This really happened. It happened as sure as the Nazi prison camps exterminated millions of Jews, as sure as a heart attack gripped my grandfather’s chest and stole his last breath, as sure as a brain tumor took away my best friend after torturing him for months and months.
This “story” is real. The entire bible is real. I can’t read it like it is allegory or a giant book of parables and fables. These things happened here on this earth.
2 Timothy 3:15 You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
It is time for me to look at the scriptures differently than I did as a kid. I was taught them, but they must be applied to my life, not because it is a good idea and so that I can be rewarded when I get to heaven. They are real. My salvation is real. I won’t wake up in heaven one day and hear the bible was all just a good book of stories. It is God’s history with mankind, written to teach me what is true and to help me see what is wrong and teach me to do what is right.
God, help me to grasp the reality of your Word! Place it in my heart and make it a part of who I am. Teach me all the things you desire for me to learn. Amen.