In the UK – kids believe that Santa Claus or Father Christmas comes with presents to children that have been good. Imagination and make believe are fun elements of any child’s growing up, but it has made Christmas all about spending too much and receiving lots of things. It’s a shame because “Santa Claus” comes from “Saint Nicholas” who was a real guy – not a fat guy with a white beard and red suit remodelled by Coca Cola!
Saint Nicholas was born into a rich family in Patara (part of modern day Turkey) – his parents died young, although they had led him to Christ. He spent his inheritance on the poor and gave gifts to poor children. He also saved 3 young poor women being sold into sexual slavery.
The most famous story about him is being part of the Council of Nicaea in 325. That was when church leaders came together to discuss what Arius was teaching. Arius (and his followers the Arians) didn’t believe that Jesus was equal to the Father, that he was God. So when the council came to nailing the truth it came down to two Greek words Homoiousios and Homoousios. The one with the extra i (or iota from where the expression I don’t give an iota) was the heretical one where Jesus is of a similar substance to the Father. Homoousios means of the same substance – i.e. Jesus is God. The discussion over the one iota is important – it’s about where Jesus is God or not – the J.W.s today are basically an Arian heresy.
Legend has it that Nicholas got so fed up with his heretical nonsense that he punched him. Afterwards he was remorseful as punching heretics is not a great response for a Christ follower!
Thankfully Arius got voted as a heretic and the truth was preserved an the iota wasn’t given.
Saint Nicholas – loved Jesus, was passionate for the truth and was extremely generous to the poor and those who didn’t deserve it.
Santa Claus is an imaginary fat bearded guy in a red suit who comes down kid’s chimneys to give gifts to children that have been good and deserve it.
The difference between Saint Nic and Santa is like the difference between religion and Christianity
Religion says that God will be pleased with us and give us eternal life if we are good and deserving of it. Trouble is we aren’t good enough and we aren’t deserving of it – we have all done things wrong, said things that are wrong.
Christianity gives us the gift of eternal life, even though we don’t deserve it. God knows we have no hope of being good enough to not spoil heaven, so he deals with sin in our life by sending Jesus to be born as God-Man, living the perfect life we can’t and then dying on our behalf, instead of us.
This Christmas God wants to give you the gift of eternal life – and friendship with God through Jesus Christ.
Receiving that gift is as easy as A.B.C.
Admit that you aren’t good enough to earn God’s favour
Believe that Jesus came to die on your behalf for your sin
Confess that you believe and that Jesus is now your Lord or boss and you are following him