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Encouraging Imagination or Fostering Deceit?

Proverbs 14:25 – “A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.”

God’s Word has a lot to say about lies; not the least of which is how He deals with them and where those who spread them are destined to spend eternity (Revelation 21:8).  I don’t believe it’s necessary to delve into why God is so harsh in His dealings with lying, as I presume the majority of those reading this have a Scriptural understanding for this already.  In short, the Bible teaches us that God is Truth (John 14:6). Furthermore, His Word calls us to live in that truth by His Spirit, being separated from the falsehoods of this world and its current ruler, the father of lies (John 8:44).  Instead, in this article, I hope to touch on something we’ve all no doubt wrestled with in our own thoughts, discussed with family members or even a few brothers and sisters in Christ, but perhaps not really tackled head on. For many years it’s been my conviction that it was needful to address the topic of a particular false idol, one that has been used to distract from the truth of God’s Word and even build a case for lying. This is an idol used in today’s post modern culture to quite productively propagate that same old lie from the serpent in the garden; that we can be as gods (Gen 3:5).

The Hebrew word for lies and/or lying is “Kazab”, which is defined as this:

כָּזָב kâzâb, kaw-zawb’; from H3576; falsehood; literally (untruth) or figuratively (idol):—deceitful, false, leasing, liar, lie, lying.

We live in a day when evil is promoted as good, and good is rejected and slandered with militant intolerance.  Just as it’s been since the fall, aware or unaware, we witness the proclamation of falsehoods on a very regular basis. In fact, I’d wager we’re just as likely to have someone lie to us, in front of us, about us, or worse, receive a lie from us more often than a parent of an eight-year old boy steps on a Lego while getting a glass of water in the middle of the night. For all you parents out there, I hear that’s almost every night, right?…  No matter how common, it’s still our call to recognize the destruction of straying from the truth. When it comes to that which is contrary to the Word of God we are called to blow our horns, lovingly and truthfully marking those lies and those who continue spreading them (Ephesians 5:6-7).

Enter, the Topic at Hand: A Modern Day Idol

Yes, I call him an idol, but this is one that comes in a form continually manifesting itself in different ways.  I’ll explain that further a little later, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I’m speaking of the modern-day Santa Claus.  I don’t want to discuss the original “Saint Nicholas” or what we can learn from a man who gives to the needy. We could talk about what lessons might be learned from the historical Saint Nick, but that’s not what’s truly captivating or consuming the hearts and minds of most people today. Rather, it’s the very image of Santa in our culture that many refuse to address in light of God’s Word. Many, that is, but not all. I’ve read some good pieces on this in years past, but alas, we, God’s people are in continual need of reminders.

A couple of the most common defenses we often hear from those embracing Santa are that it’s all “harmless fun that encourages imagination” and “it’s just fun to believe.” Let’s examine these oft repeated claims a bit more thoroughly.  To say that telling certain lies is harmless and fun is completely faulty – not to mention grieving to the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 5:3-4, 9).  Even within secular humanism, lying is fundamentally rejected. That’s not to say our convictions should be based on worldly wisdom, but knowing that even a broken clock is right twice a day should be cause enough to examine our own clocks.  When it comes to homosexuality, our culture calls people to “stop living a lie,” and “come out of the closet!” And who could forget their anti-Biblical anthem, “be proud to be who you truly are!”  Likewise, AA meetings encourage addicts to first admit their addiction, and pop-psychologists drill the mantra of “being true to yourself” and “honest with who you really are.”  Obviously, Scripture refutes all of these self claims, so this is just meant to exemplify the high esteem of “truth”, at least as the world attempts to define it.

Of course, one of the issues with the world’s ideologies is that they’re consistently inconsistent. With all the world’s “truth” speak, it seems only fair to point out they are actually more inline with this “religious fanatic’s” view, at least in their open admission of the necessity of truth, than the foolish lies of the Santa fairy tale which everyone knows are pure conjecture. But challenge the logic and legitimacy of the Santa idol openly and you’re told to close your mouth and play along for the sake of “imagination.”  The real problem is that many Christians even go along with this and in doing so, they’ve, at some level, unwittingly “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…” (Romans 1:23), and a fictitious “man” at that.

God designed our minds in unfathomable wisdom and with incredible aptitude. Interestingly, we often display this aptitude much more clearly as children. We explore the world around us, taking time to experiment and discover the truths of the scientific laws God put in place, then developing our thought processes according to these truths. It’s amazing how God determined we were to learn these things; not simply by being told or imparting certain information into our brains on our 10th, 18th, and 25th birthdays, but by experiencing and testing His creation. Incredible!  Forcing children to believe in what we know to be a lie, dismissing their suspicions, and then explaining away the evidence contrary to Santa and his flying reindeer actually teaches children that evidence and reality don’t matter. Perpetuating falsehood teaches them that truth is fluid and that lying is perfectly acceptable and good, so long as it’s a “happy” lie that gets you gifts.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, these lies have the very real potential of  eroding the credibility of parents who insists on telling them. They also may well lead to the degradation of the true and biblical Jesus parents desire to teach to their children, the One who actually “sees everything we do”, “knows whether we’ve been bad or good”, and “rewards the good (believers in Christ)” with Heaven and punishes the evil (unbelievers) with Hell… you know, a place that’s hot like burning coals.

There’s a reason God hates dishonesty. (Proverbs 6:16,19). It’s an affront to His very character. God loves the truth because His is the truth. (John 14:6). He deals with us in honesty and integrity and has evidenced His truth in His Word, in the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit, and even in the world we interact with everyday. We have the potential of using our intricately designed minds to carefully examine any and all claims, in hopes of determining that which is true. And this is all with the intent that our careful examinations will ultimately lead us back to Him.  Lies, even “good” ones will only deter us from the God of Truth. Scripture is clear that lies are what pave every inch of the wide road of destruction (Matthew 7:13).

There’s another aspect of this that’s been nagging at the back of my mind. It’s not just the lies that cause me to scratch my head when I hear parents trying to persuade their children that Santa Claus is real. It’s also the vicious cycle of blasphemous pagan theology being promulgated to the next generation. Now, until today I wasn’t aware that this was something already said aloud. But as my wife was reading this article, she pointed out to me that just this week she had read an interesting piece articulating this very cycle. (There’s a link to the story at the end of this article if you’d like to read it firsthand. Please note, we’re not promoting the article’s message, but it does emphasize just how much the passing on of the Santa lie has continued to grow worldwide and now even become extremely personalized/individualized.)

For children who believe in Santa, what they get from him is often of most concern. Emotions are high. Excitement and anticipation are firing on all cylinders as they eagerly wait to see what he’s brought them.  Their hope is wrapped up in what gifts this made-up, magic “man” will deliver. All the while parents plot, plan, and work tirelessly to cover their tracks in hopes of keeping the lie alive for as many years as possible. But why? Why is Santa pushed so hard?  I think it’s fair to presume most parents were taught the same when they were kids so their desire is to keep the tradition “alive.” Or for some, perhaps they didn’t celebrate Santa and felt they missed out on something “special”.

Those who grew up with Santa Claus waited season after season, wondering what sort of presents this mystical being would bring them. They loved the experience, but as they grew up, inevitably they came to the realization (or were told by the same adults that earlier lied to them) that it was all a rouse and a vast conspiracy, one apparently even the cashiers at Walmart are in on. Sadly, perpetuating a lie has the very real potential of effectively destroying children’s confidence in their parents and in the Lord. Children may also illogically connect Santa and Jesus, believing if you can’t see something, surely you shouldn’t believe it. Of course, teaching children about the true, historical Jesus and a fictitious, omnipresent, magical being living in the North Pole are two completely different things.

Unfortunately, since many parents tell their children to believe in both Jesus and Santa without helping them to understand the evidence (or lack thereof) for either, kids’ belief in Jesus is potentially damaged once they realize the Santa of their parents’ preaching is nothing more than make-believe. Children may likely grow very skeptical of hearing that God, Whom they cannot see, physically came, died on the cross for their sins, and was raised from the dead. They may even become resentfully resistant to trusting in and receiving God’s offer of  His true and immeasurable Gift and promise of redemption and eternity with Him through Jesus’ resurrected Life.  After all, how could someone possibly believe in something truly biblical and supernatural given that their heartfelt experience with Santa Claus, a supposed all-knowing, gift-giving entity was, at some point in their childhood, exposed as a blatant lie.

And the Santa cycle continues. What if that same devastated child, now an adult, has the opportunity to “redeem” the lies of their childhood? They themselves can now be the one who revives the lie, being in control of it and wielding it upon their own kids as they wish.  Now they give the gifts. Now they do the threatening of “I’m gonna tell Santa” when they want their kids to behave better. They now watch their own children’s emotions soar every year with anticipation of receiving presents from this omniscient, omnipresent immortal from up north. Despite that which they held so dear being destroyed right before their very eyes and afterward seeing their parents as the culprits of deceit, they now take up the mantel, thrusting the same would-be trust issues upon their own kids.  Not only do they get to re-experience all the emotions, but now they get to become the very idol they worshiped so long ago.

Now, I’m sure it’s not most people’s conscious intention to encourage what I’ve described above, but it’s my desire to offer an outsider’s observation of what may possibly be the very heart of the matter.  Although we are all guilty of having built up our own gods, even as Christians, and spread lies, often times for the sake of our own pleasure, comfort, and convenience, MAY IT NOT BE SO!  May we not continue in sin, but rather continue in the Truth. May we love God’s Word! As Christians we should desire Jesus and teach our children the same. Simultaneously teaching them to desire all that Santa “has to offer” WILL only distract them, confuse them, skepticize them, and deceive them. Let’s keep the lame, hand carved idols reserved for lessons of what not to follow.(That includes the animated kind we dress up as, “meet & greet” with, and take pictures with for $29.99 – autographed photo included!)

Habakkuk 2:18-20“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The subject of Santa Claus has been drilled repeatedly throughout the years, so I pray we carefully consider this topic, leaving aside our childhood nostalgia and truly take it to God’s Word.  The inconsistency of our lives should only encourage more holiness (by the Spirit of God), both in us and in our children.  Less of us and more of Jesus! As Christians, we should have a desperate desire to be honest, even as our Heavenly Father is honest; leading others to the absolute truth which is the greatest news of all, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The verse shared at the beginning of this article should be every Christian’s desire- to witness with the truth (the Gospel), delivering souls from the lies of the world, some of which most definitely include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, as well as any other man-made idol that distracts us, our children, and children’s children, from the truth of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Proverbs 29:24 – “Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.”

Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”

Psalm 101:7“He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.”

 

If interested in reading the article referenced above, click the link: (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/12/19/the-story-behind-the-beautiful-way-this-mom-told-her-sons-the-truth-about-santa/?utm_term=.99a619469cb6)

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