Just as knowing the true story behind the annual observance of Thanksgiving is important, so also is it important to know the true story of Christmas, and just as we need to share the truth about Thanksgiving Day, we also need to share the truth about Christmas Day. That’s what I want to discuss in this month’s digital evangelism article.
Perhaps only committed Christians even realize that there are two narratives being promulgated for the story of Christmas. One is the biblical narrative while the other is the legendary narrative of Santa Claus, which is based very loosely on a little-known bishop canonized as St. Nicholas. However, it is based mostly upon a poem entitled “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (of disputed authorship) first published on December 23, 1823, in the Troy Sentinel. While practically everyone knows the story of Santa Claus, far fewer – even in Christian churches at times – know the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s birth. That’s where we must fill in the gaps of ignorance with the true story of Jesus’ birth, life, sacrifice, and kingship as taught to us in the Bible.
There’s no better place to start than in the church. I am disturbed that too many professing Christian parents teach their children to believe in Santa Claus without giving them any option while simultaneously neglecting to teach them to believe in Jesus because they want their children to “make up their own minds” about whether to believe in Jesus or not. When these children grow up and discover that Santa Claus is a false narrative, it’s no wonder they will suspect that the biblical story of Christ is a false narrative, too. After all, the same parents who taught them to believe the lie of Santa Claus also said that Jesus is the Son of God born into the world as a tiny baby in order to grow up and die for our sins. Amazingly, much more is made of the story of Santa Claus at Christmas – even in supposed Christian households – than is made of Jesus’ birth. So, what can we do about this enormous gap in the knowledge of the truth about Christmas? I’m glad you asked!
For starters, we can ensure that our children and grandchildren hear the true story of Christmas from our own mouths. While my Christian parents taught me to believe in Santa Claus, I chose not to teach my own children to believe this, but – to my chagrin – some of my kinfolk did take them to have photos taken while sitting on Santa’s lap. Nevertheless, I took great pains to emphasize the biblical story of Christ’s birth and life to them as they grew up. I’m convinced that they are committed Christians today partly because of that emphasis.
Next, we can urge our church’s Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders to emphasize this instruction in our Christian education classes at every age level. I’ve been completely stunned over my lifetime as a pastor at the biblical illiteracy among both children and adults, and although I’ve done all I could to ensure this ignorance was addressed in the churches I pastored, I still feel I hardly made a dent. Even now while composing this article, I feel like a lone voice crying against worldly influences that have either compromised Christian doctrine or have completely replaced it with false doctrine.
Finally, we can extend our evangelistic efforts to share this true story of Christmas beyond our homes and local church walls to include the entire world as we post on our social media sites and write for our blogs and Web sites. While there’s nothing wrong with posting the same seemingly trite statements of “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Wise men still seek Him”, let’s get more confrontational and challenge both professing Christians and non-Christians alike with statements like, “Is Jesus your Savior and King?” or “Who do you say that Jesus is?” I’m certain you can think up some challenging statements of your own to post on Twitter and Facebook. Ask the Lord to inspire you, and I am sure that He will.
As we celebrate this holy season, let’s stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the expressed purpose of dying for our sins. However, we aren’t looking for a Babe in a manger any longer. Now, we are looking for a glorious King to appear in the clouds at His appointed time. As the Apostle John wrote at the end of the Book of Revelation: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20 NKJV). Merry Christmas!