Monday, December 22, 2014

The Day Before the Night Before Christmas

It’s the day before the night before Christmas and that reminds me of one of my favorite childhood Christmas songs. And of course now the song is running through my head.

It’s the day before the night before Christmas
and I’m busy, busy, busy being good.
On the day before the night before Christmas
gonna do everything a good boy should.
I’m making up a list about ten pages long.
I’m on page ten now and still going strong.
It’s the day before the night before Christmas
And I’m busy, busy, busy being good.
It’s the day before the night before Christmas.
But to do everything I ought to do:
cleaning up and brushing up and washing my ears…
Hey a day isn’t long enough—it will take years!

The song starts off with this idea that Christmas is approaching fast and this little boy is hoping that all his extra special effort to behave will ensure his place on Santa’s “Nice” list. In preparation for this, he’s making the customary multi-page wish list because he wants to make sure that Santa knows exactly what he wants. Too many American Christians today approach faith like this little boy does Christmas. They approach God like he’s Santa in the off-season…an old man with a white beard in his bathrobe who has a naughty and nice list. If they are good enough to make it on the nice list, then God will look over their massive wish list and reward them for their good behavior with something from their list. If they are really, really good, then maybe God will give them the whole wish list.

God is not Santa in disguise. Jesus confronted this same kind of misperception in his life on earth with the religious leaders of his day. The Sadducees and Pharisees thought that people who were prosperous and healthy were the good people God was blessing and that the poor and sick were sinners God was punishing. God knows if we are naughty or nice and when we’re sleeping or awake, but he’s not “up there” making a list and checking it twice or handing out gifts to good boys and girls and coal to the naughty children of the earth. God is the one who created us to be in relationship with him and he is the one who willingly paid our death penalty for us on the cross when we severed that relationship with sin.
And even though Jesus busted this myth in his teachings and by his life example, we still haven’t made much progress in getting away from this erroneous expectation.

Back to the song lyrics:

You can’t fool St. Nick. He’s too slick
to fall for all the falderal and all of your tricks.
On the day before the night before Christmas
it’s no good being good for a day.
I’ve learned something—be good for nothing.
Just be good and he’ll be good to you.
Be good, I mean the whole year through.

Now here is where St. Nick and God have something in common—you really can’t fool either of them. While St. Nick somehow knows what we are doing, God knows what we are doing and sees our heart. He knows what we are thinking and feeling, our weaknesses and strengths and God knows our hopes and dreams. We are not pets to God—he’s not standing by with treats to reward us when we obey his commands. God wants to bless every single one of us with the greatest gift we can ever receive—a relationship with him. We can’t earn that blessing. He died as a human being on a cross to redeem and renew that broken relationship (not when we were being good but when we were still all messy with dirty ears) and he rose from the dead by his own power to secure an eternity with him for us. Now that’s a Christmas gift!!!

Merry Blessed Christmas to you!

1 comment:

Common Household Mom said...

"We are not pets to God" - what a great way to put it.

Merry Blessed Christmas to you, too!