In a post from a few years ago (https://bradflack.com/2017/04/29/candles-prayers-and-motions/) I wrote about the subtle and simple lies that Satan weaves into our traditions, our conversations, our lives. I think because of the gravity of Christmas, he is always working double time during this season. Would you now help me as I figuratively “flesh out” or work out some of my own thoughts and emotions as I read the scripture and see the world around me? Can you ask yourself the same questions I have asked of my own life? Let’s work to make each other stronger, better but not to carry anything to a legalism or a liberalism. Let us be founded on the Word alone.
*Heads up readers, these are all my ideas and may or may not agree with yours. We are all privileged to have our own opinion. While I am using scripture mentally to filter through my thoughts, there is not many passages called out in this post specifically. I normally don’t do a ton of personal opinion work in my writings, but i thought I’d share this one and see what you all think. I do hope that you’ll see my questions and humor as parts of my heart and not read this as condemning or judging of others. I just want to ask questions, make statements, start a conversation.*
Some of the more obvious lies of Satan are: the shift from the gifts brought to baby Jesus (https://bradflack.com/2018/11/27/the-wise-men-and-their-gifts/) to a more commercialized focus on materialism as well as the focus off of Jesus and onto the made up character of Santa Claus. The thing is, though, that originally Saint Nicklaus (which evolved over the years to Santa Claus) was a real person who did amazing things in his life, but has indeed been altered over time.
For more about Saint Nicholas, you can go to http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-Nicholas/ or https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-quest-for-the-historical-santa/ And remembering someone like that would be fine, but Satan was not content to leave that alone when it became clear that by elevating Santa Claus to the level of, or above, Jesus for the season in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, was quite easy and quite damaging. Do you also have Santa in your house or did you growing up? What took mental precedence for you, Jesus or Santa…or both? Don’t get me wrong, we do practice the “Santa Claus” method in our house, but we always try to over and over and over emphasize how Santa brings gifts to help us celebrate Jesus’s birthday, not that he is a stand-alone character of the season. We love Santa, but always in the context of why he is part of the season. Remember, the word Saint or Santa means holy, or set apart. Saint Nicklaus aka Santa Claus originally got his recognition performing acts as an overflow of his own faith and devotion to Jesus, not to become a famously depicted fictional character with an amazing and oddly accepted ability to enter into everyone’s homes while they sleep and eat our desserts. Satan is super sly, it’s not much of a change visually, but it is physically, from satan to santa…keep a close eye out, he is crafty like that!
Another lie Satan helps propagate is that somehow, even though it’s Jesus’s birthday, let’s all get each other a bunch of gifts. I’d say that especially here in the US, we are particularly fond of this one. Guilty as charged myself. The problem is this, when do we ever celebrate another person’s birthday and go out and buy gifts for other people?
I get the thought and idea that we are just overjoyed at the birth of the messiah and wish to spread that cheer with gifts, and rightly so because He is the messiah! But I think we may go overboard with it. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. I am somewhat ashamed to admit I don’t do more than I’m doing to help those in need. I’m not saying it isn’t good to give good things to each other, even Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 “If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Maybe our collective economical prowess would be better put to use helping the poor and hungry around the world (an actual tenet of Jesus’s teaching) than it is to gain the next gadget or fashion trend. Or, and this one also points it’s finger at me, making my children’s existence too comfortable with all of their junk.
He also promotes the lie that even great things like family together time, carols, decorations, and parties are the reason for the season, and not Jesus. Any one of these things or all of them, in the right context and with the properly postured heart, are super. But when we allow these things to rise up to the main course when they are just garnishing, we make a mistake. My wife often says I am a little grinchy, or bahumbug, when I speak like this. I think she doesn’t want anyone to get the incorrect impression that I hate Christmas. I don’t, I love Christmas! But what I don’t want is to get into the presence of Jesus and Him ask me why he was not the one being celebrated on His own birthday. I love Christmas, hear me now. The gift of Jesus, fully God, being born in a lowly dwelling and laid in a manger, fully man. His humbling of himself by leaving Heaven and entering into His creation to save His creations, you and me, is unfathomable! So hear me when I say, don’t neglect to enjoy yourselves as you celebrate Jesus. But celebrate Jesus! Don’t let Satan’s lies about the season distract you from the true object of worship and affection. And last of all, Merry Christmas!
To start at the beginning of this Advent/Christmas series, click here: https://bradflack.com/2018/11/26/from-hanukkah-to-christmas/
For the next post in this series, click here: https://bradflack.com/2018/12/05/the-christmas-assault/