You Better Watch Out!

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He’s making a list,
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out
Who’s naughty and nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you’re sleeping.
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

What seems to most to be a simple and jolly Christmas carol is in reality terrifying.  The song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, portrays an omnipotent being who keeps a watch over everyone at all hours tallying up their naughty and nice deeds.  The song beckons children to be good lest they find themselves on the naughty list.  And so anxious children everywhere fret over their deeds of the previous months.

Unfortunately, as the false Santa from Tim Allen’s movie The Santa Clause 2 says, every kid is naughty and they all deserve coal.

Of course, the false Santa in The Santa Clause 2 is the bad guy, but theologically speaking he has it right.  No one deserves to be on the nice list.  There really should be no anxiety or doubt about where one is in Santa’s book because no one is righteous, no not one.  We know which list we are on and it is not the nice one.

This is how it also is with God.  As Romans 3 says we are not righteous and nobody does good.  However, unlike the Santa Claus universe, we are not left up to our own devices to somehow make it on the nice list.  Our deeds are not placed upon a scale balancing back and forth as we anxiously wait.  Instead Christ does what we cannot do and he earns our salvation for us.  No amount of wickedness or naughtiness can budge the scale when the cross is on the other side.

Through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection we are declared to be righteous and holy through.  Our names are written into the book of life not according to any merit of our own, but because of Christ’s merit.  While many live as though their salvation were dependent upon the judgment of a Santa-like God weighing their good and bad deeds, because of Christ we are freed from all doubt and anxiety.

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