Spoiler alert! (If you care deeply for Santa you may not want to read any further.)
My four year old son doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. At least that is what he told us many months ago. He is a very anylitical young man who likes to weigh the evidence, follow the logic, and study the issues from every angle. Upon doing this with the story of good old St. Nick he was left with one undeniable four-year old’s conclusion: Santa is just a story. He can’t possibly be real.
We did not lead him down this way of thinking, we were still debating between ourselves how exactly we should handle the whole issue around Christmas this year. To have our little scientist come to this conclusion on his own lifted a certain weight off our questioning shoulders.
But then a strange thing happened. In the intervening time our son came to realize that the whole world has tied the story of Santa to the giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas. He didn’t believe in Santa, but he dearly loves the idea of toys! You could almost hear the gears spinning. When the smoke cleared he somewhat, sort-of, almost undeniably, in mostly-no-uncertain terms told us that he really truly believes in Santa Claus. (He’s a terrible liar – even for a four-year old – if I can read his face!)
What happened to all his well thought out convictions? What happened to his rock-solid certainty? He was willing to lay it all aside and pretend to believe something he didn’t really believe … IF the reward was great enough. IF it promised something good enough by way of compensation. In short, he began to like the lie better. They sure do grow up fast don’t they?
It is a very grown up thing to do … to like the lie enough to lay aside reason and conviction. It is something we adults have become so accustomed to doing, that we don’t often even notice anymore. We have even come to call it “living in the real world.” If we believe the lie that there is no God or that God is just a creation of our own making, the payback is that we get to be Him, and we are no longer answerable to Him. If we believe the lie that all religions are basically the same the payback is that they are all basically meaningless and easy (and right) to ignore. If we believe the lie of evolution then the payoff is that life is meaningless, we are an accident of nature, and something better is coming. The payback is that morals don’t apply, and the expectations on who we are and how we should act are really very low … not to mention not our fault.
One day the price of the lie will finally outweigh the lure of the material gifts and my son will go back to his well informed and well reasoned understanding. My prayer is that the same will happen for so many of those in our world who have come to like the lie. My prayer is that one day the the lure of the payoff will no longer outweigh the truth before them. That there is a God … one true God who made Himself known in Jesus Christ. A God who in Christ created them … a God who in Christ loves them and has expectations of them … a God who because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross thinks highly enough of them to want to be with them for eternity. A God who loves them more than Santa ever could – and that’s no lie!