Is God make-believe, just like Santa?

Posted on December 17, 2015 · Posted in Holidays, Parenting


This is a post that we offer each Christmas. I pray that it will serve as an encouragement.

Here is a comment we received from a reader which underscores the focus of this post:

“Like my 13 year old daughter said to me…”Mom, I’m afraid that one day I’ll figure out that God was really make-believe just like Santa is. Just a way for you to get me to behave.”

Are you Santa’s helper?

Your children know everything about you. They see when you are sleeping, they know when you have been good or bad, they know when you pout and when you shout. When you stumble and ask God for help — they learn. When you stumble and snap or make excuses — they learn from that, too.

What does this have to do with being Santa’s helper? For many, Santa and presents under the tree are tightly connected. When I was a child we left milk and cookies for Santa each Christmas Eve before we went to bed. And sure enough, when my brothers and I bolted out of bed to head for the tree, the milk and cookies were gone. In their place were presents and stockings. Santa was for real!

Children who experience this visit from Santa feel adorned. This adornment is clearly of the material sort. The children don’t really know “Santa.” But they know his helpers, as I did as a child. His helpers? Why Mom and Dad of course! When Mom and Dad help Santa, good things happen. Toys pour down from the chimney and appear under the tree.

However, if Mom and Dad are Christians, parents often say they are somebody else’s helper. That’s right, parents are also God’s helpers. This brings a question: whom would your children rather you help? Do your children feel the same sense of adornment when you are God’s helper as they do when you are Santa’s helper?

Proverbs teaches that opportunities for discipline and teaching are to be times of “adorning your children” as with the finest jewelry, just like Christmas time. Discipline and correction should feel like adornment to your children. Sadly, most children feel anything but adorned by their parents’ discipline and correction.

The contrast is not lost on a young child. Don’t misunderstand; I am not saying, “Don’t discipline or don’t give presents.” But the Bible teaches that you can discipline in such a way as to adorn your children. Try the special combination of Proverbs – discipline and pleasant words mixed together (Pro. 16:20-24). This is a powerful combination. Verse 24 says pleasant words promote instruction. Pleasant words should dominate your day-to-day verbal instruction and discipline. This is not always easy, but with Christ’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit you can be a different parent — one who adorns at times other than Christmas.

Teach your children that One more wonderful than Santa loves them and has given them parents to teach them about Christ and true riches. Don’t confuse your children by helping a mythical visitor. Tell them that you love them because Christ has loved you. Tell them that your God has given you a rich blessing – your children. Let them know that the gifts they receive are expressions of your love to them. Adorn your children at Christmas. Adorn your children on May 14th and August 3rd, as well. Let them know that you are Christ’s helper to bring them into relationship with Him.

Show your children what true riches are. In addition to the gifts that you wrap, adorn your children with gifts that are more valuable than silver and gold. Show them the excellence of being Christ’s helper.

This Christmas, whose helper will you be — Santa’s or Christ’s? Blessings to you this Christmas Season!


Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.