I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about the Christmas holiday. While it traditionally marks the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Christmas has been increasingly de-Christianized in recent years. As the creche gives way to Coke, the Christ child to commercialism, I’ve come more and more to play the Scrooge to pagan America’s worship of Dollar Almighty.
My miserly attitude was further cemented last night.
Last night I watched a true classic of pagan Christmas cheer, the 2007 film “Fred Claus.” The film stars Vince Vaughn who plays Fred Claus, the older brother of Santa Claus. Aside from the cliche displays of “Christmas cheer” and a few clever scenes (Fred Claus attends a “Siblings Anonymous” meeting, surrounded by the likes of Roger Clinton, Steven Baldwin, and Frank Stallone), the message of the film was as simple as it was false. In an attempt to overturn the traditional American vision of a Santa Claus who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, Fred Claus convinces Santa that in the end, “there are no naughty children.” The naughty and nice list is thrown to the wind, and Santa will from now on give presents to every girl and boy because “every child deserves a present on Christmas.”
Of course, there is nothing Christian or biblical about the idea of Santa Claus; the pagans can have him for all I care. While Santa does not deserve our defense, we should not fail to see the pagan shift our culture has undergone. “There are no naughty children” assumes that there is no sin, that there was no Fall, that there are no ultimate consequences for our rebellion against the Creator. “Every child deserves a present on Christmas” empties the word “deserves” of all meaning, declares that no one (and no One) holds authority to judge the living and the dead. The negation of sin is a negation of the Christian God. The assumption that every child is good and deserves good things is an assumption that every child is in some sense God (Mark 10:18). In this trite piece of popular culture, Hollywood and the free market have conspired to deify the creation and destroy the Creator.
This should not surprise us. But it should remind us that only one child in all human history was truly innocent. Only one child actually deserved good things. And that one child, when he became a man, received not good, but the wrath meant for you and me. Only Christ Jesus deserves the praise and adoration our culture is intent on giving to human inventions like Santa Claus and capitalism. May Christ alone be the object of our worship this Christmas.