I doubt there’s one of us left who escapes it.
It’s our natural theology.
“He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice” haunts us from the time we’re old enough to talk and we fear that our nice hasn’t been nice enough.
The sad truth is, it hasn’t.
By December 24th, I’ve committed enough sin in one year to fill a lifetime. And you probably have too.
Yet, we continue to operate in our relationship with God as if he’s like Santa Claus.
Maybe if we manage to keep a few basic rules of *niceness* in this life, we’ll get what’s on our list.
How many times have I told myself, “I’m a pretty good person”?
To borrow Pastor Cwirla’s description, we’ve allowed the transactional nature of our culture and of secular Christmas to seep into our spirits. And even if we deny it with our lips, we fear it’s true with all our being.
He’s keeping score. “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.”
And we know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The gnawing, besetting sins that keep us in bondage remind us that we are not measuring up.
But does He really keep track? When He looks at me, does He have my ‘naughty’ list in His hand, ready to read it back to me in all its gory detail?
The answer to that question is yes and no.
He keeps track. He knows every sin. Every single one. The lies, the gossip, the unkind words, the evil thoughts, the hatred and jealousy.
He knows them all.
But He’s not keeping them in a sin file to use against me later when He’s ready to weigh the balance and see whether the ‘nice’ outweighs the naughty’. He already knows the answer to that question and I don’t fare very well.
Instead, like a loving Father, he sends His son into the world, as a little tiny baby—the Word made flesh—-to redeem it back to Himself.
He himself will right what has been wronged.
He himself will find what has been lost.
He himself will die so that we may live.
He doesn’t overlook my sin like a senile grandfather. I can’t ‘make up for it’ in the month before Christmas by doing a lot of good deeds.
He knows every last sin and takes it on Himself and nails it to the cross. My punishment is paid in full. He has tipped the scale. And in the process, He’s made me into something much more than ‘nice’. He has washed me clean in the waters of baptism. He has made me whole with the food from heaven, his very own body and blood. He has deemed me holy with the righteousness of Christ. He loves me. He is my Father. And He has given me EVERYTHING I need in the gift of His son.
And He’s done it in such a way that I can’t possibly take any credit. I didn’t seek him or choose him or love him or deserve him. His grace gift is free and the repentance that is required to receive Him is a gift from Him as well.
Our God is no Santa Claus. He will not strike a deal with us. There is no bargaining. He is not waiting for us to do ‘our part’.
He is our Father and has revealed His undeserved love and kindness toward us in Jesus. The work, the striving, the rule-keeping, the measuring up–he’s taken it all upon Himself. Perhaps He wonders why we are still trying to keep score. In Christ, we are reconciled to the Father and no amount of ‘niceness’ could ever have done that for us. We receive His forgiveness and His love with thankful hearts and look with joy and wonder at the miracle of His incarnation.
What a grand relief!
Love has come.
And He has freed us from naughty and nice.
May His peace be your gift this Christmas.