The Santa Claus Syndrome
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Around this time of year, I'm always flooded with memories of Santa Claus as a kid. I remember being so stressed out about whether or not I had made it onto his "good list" for that year. I would spend all of December trying to make up for a year's worth of "being good" in hopes of getting every present I had ever dreamed of.
Unfortunately, many of us view God in this Santa-like fashion. We picture an old guy with a white beard watching our every move to make sure we don't mess up. We think that if we do enough "good" things we'll be put on a list to receive rewards and if we do "bad" things we'll get put on a list to receive punishment. As a result, we either frantically try to be good enough and spend our lives in a constant state of worry and guilt, or we realize we can never be good enough and do whatever we want, accepting our fate, pretending we don't care what happens. The truth is, we actually will never be good enough. Romans 3:23 declares, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We all deserve punishment and eternal separation from God.
However, we have HOPE! Jesus knew we could never earn our own salvation, so He earned it for us. Romans 3:25 says, “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood to be received by faith.” Jesus freed us from our sin allowing us to stand holy before God and enjoy a relationship with Him. Romans 8:1-2 announces, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
As Christians, we don't live the way we do to earn salvation. We live the way we do because we have accepted Jesus's gift of salvation, and our desires begin to reflect God's own desires as we get to know Him. In the end, salvation is not about the good works we did or didn't do. Salvation is all about who we did or didn't know. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast.”
Do you know Jesus? Have you received His love and forgiveness? During this Christmas season, reflect on the greatest gift ever given – salvation through Jesus.
- Leah White
Leah is a college student in the Birmingham area. In her spare time, you can find her painting, hiking, taking pictures, reading, or drinking hot tea.