“Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Now that Christmas has passed, maybe it’s safe to ask aloud: What if there had never been a foggy Christmas Eve? Would the other reindeer never have loved poor Rudolph? Or let him join in any reindeer games?
This sounds so un-American to say, sacrilegious even. But, I’m thinking that I like God a lot better than Santa Claus.
Before you laugh and call me names, let me explain. Besides the whole reality issue, you have to admit Santa’s approach is a little like his reindeer. He keeps a list and, if you’re nice, it’s cool; you get lots of toys. If you’re naughty, you get coal. If you’re different in some way, his team leaves you out until you can do something for them.
God has a very different way. Oh, he knows that we’re all naughty, but he loves us anyway. And, he offers incredible gifts to us anyway. And he knows all about our red-noses, or big ears, or slow wits, or whatever it is that makes others laugh and call us names. But he loves us anyway.
When God came to town, he actually sought out the misfits that were excluded from the religious games. He picked an excommunicated tax collector named Matthew to be one of his team. He even added a right-wing tax-collector- hating zealot named Simon to the group to liven things up a bit.
When God came to town, he shocked even those two by treating a foreign five-time divorced cohabiter with kindness and respect at the well. Rather than executing a guilty adulteress, he won her pardon. When a woman with a bad reputation threw herself at his feet, he defended and befriended her.
When Paul, the persecutor turned preacher, met the God who came to town, he wrote of his experience: “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).
Santa cuts you off if you’re bad. His reindeer call you names if you look funny. But God always loves you and offers you his gifts. And his sleigh-pullers, if they really understand his way, will always welcome you into their games. through, your gift will be a beautiful thing.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.