When I was a child, I LOVED Santa Claus. Sure, I loved that he gave gifts, but mostly I loved him because of his kindness, gentleness and jolliness. I was drawn to him every Christmas through stories of children being blessed with gifts and reigniting their belief in him. My heart broke through the stories that showed adults no longer believed and then watched with tear-filled eyes as they finally witnessed the miracle of Christmas and their minds and hearts were transformed. I joke and say that when I grow up, I want to be Mrs. Claus. My husband would fit the role of Santa with no trouble, well if he gained more weight and was older. The point is I am attracted to the giving, loving and joyful heart. I adore it. But, Santa is a lie…or is he?
This link tells the history of the jolly old elf. The underlying whisper for thousands of years is that people have been drawn to kindness. St. Nicholas became the most popular saint because of his “piety and kindness.” Piety is the quality of being religious or reverent, reverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations. We recognize the genuine kind heart through Santa, and we are not only drawn to it, we are also inspired by it. However, St. Nicholas is no longer living. We, real life human beings, take the role of Santa to give to others at Christmas, and do not take the credit. We keep him alive by practicing kindness and then tell tales to our children to sustain the innocence and imagination of believing. It feels good to believe. The hearts of adults still yearn to believe.
In Acts 17, Paul had been going from town to town to tell the Jewish people about Jesus. He was able to show some that Jesus was real and the Messiah, the one they had been reading about but did not know it. However, some would rise up against him and chase him out of town. In verse 17, he was in Athens and had the chance to speak to the people. He had recognized that the Athenians were very religious and worshiped many gods. Paul, however, was intrigued by a shrine with the inscription “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” (NLT), or “TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS” (MSG). Paul recognized this “unknown god” as the very god he was introducing and following. The Athenians had recognized miracles and power from a god but they did not know who the god was. I like how the Message translation ends the verse, “I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.” I found this verse very interesting and it reminded me of something.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I traveled to Peru for a mission’s trip with our church. One of the days we were there we visited Machu Picchu. Our tour guide told us that when the village was built, they did not have the modern tools we have today. Many recognize the construction of the ginormous rocks high on top of a mountain as a miracle, however they do not know what did it. There is not a specific god named that they worshiped and gave the glory to. They have silly theories of aliens and the like to attempt to explain it, regardless, they know it had to be supernatural of some kind. After getting to see the miracle with my own eyes, I recognized the God I know. I know He built that. Then, I wondered, “How many more things has God done and not gotten the credit for?” Santa Claus perhaps?
Every Christmas season, the world talks about how kind people become. Those that are not always kind will go out of their way to bless someone at Christmas. This concept is strong evidence that kindness can start a chain reaction (read my past story here). People are kind to each other during the Christmas season. Is it because of the kindness exhibited by Santa Claus that we all yearn for and are attracted? What if that kindness can be year round? What if we began recognizing the source of the kindness…the god in the miracle? The story of Santa has impacted the world for centuries but he is no longer alive. Can you imagine the impact of recognizing the miracle and kindness of Jesus? The good news is, He is alive and is the very essence of the spirit of Santa…and our hearts yearn to believe.