Santa isn’t real. There I said it. That’s a hard thing to say today. Santa’s everywhere. Malls, songs, decorations, movies… Just scroll your Facebook feed and you’ll see kids with Santa and grandkids with Santa and memes about Santa. Something has to be said. Here it is: Santa isn’t real. I really hope the people you love know that. Santa isn’t real.
Why does that matter? Isn’t this all just innocent fun? What’s the harm in letting kids believe in something make-believe? Let me phrase that a different way: “What could be wrong about letting my child love, trust, and hope in someone who isn’t real?” Does that make things clearer? There’s a word for something that you love, trust, and hope in—an idol. Remember what God says about idols? “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). I guess God thinks this is a big deal. Your child’s heart is tender and precious. It’s not an innocent thing to let your family’s hearts love a lie at one of the best times of year to focus on Jesus.
I know that sounds pretty harsh. Is Santa really a “lie”? Think of the message of Santa: “If you’re good, you’ll get good things, because you deserve them. If you’re bad, you’ll miss out. So be good for goodness sake!” Know what that message is? The greatest lie of the devil himself. That lie points us to ourselves. It leads us to trust in ourselves. “Be good, and you’re all set.” Except God’s gifts don’t come to us because we’re good. They come from God’s undeserved love to us in Jesus. Can you see how Santa encourages kids to trust in their own goodness and not in Jesus?
Still not convinced? Let’s imagine your child grows up believing in Santa and in Jesus. What happens when she realizes that Santa isn’t real? That it’s all just made up? What’s that same child going to think about Jesus too? “He must be made-up too!” How many children are growing up and leaving childhood fantasies behind, like Santa and Jesus?
So here it is: Santa isn’t real. Tell that to your kids today. Don’t have them sit on Santa’s lap at the mall. Don’t have them write letters to a made-up man. Please don’t put an elf on your shelf. Don’t let them think for a second that Christmas has anything to do with anyone other than Jesus.
Because Jesus offers so much more. Be good for goodness sake? I’m not. Not even close. I’m a sinner. Thankfully, Santa’s not my god. Here’s what my God has done: “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4-5). Jesus my Savior loves and saves me completely because of his mercy.
When Christmas ends, Santa supposedly packs up his sleigh and heads back to the North Pole. A one-hit wonder. Not Jesus. He stayed. He stayed for 33 years living a perfect life in our place. He stayed and let himself be nailed to a cross for our sins. He stayed and raised himself from the dead to give us eternal life. He stayed to forgive every sin and bind up every broken heart and give peace and love and joy to every soul who believes in him. Santa isn’t real. But Jesus is! To him be the glory.