I Need a Savior, Not a Santa!

I get asked sometimes about why I think Christianity is different. Why Jesus is different than all of the other religious figures? What makes Jesus so profound that I would make him my world view, and it keeps coming back to the reality of Grace and the reality of Karma. 
Karma, probably the traditional way Americans think about it anyway, usually comes around the idea that "what goes around comes around" You get what you deserve in the end. Your good deeds must outweigh your bad deeds. In other words, Karma sounds a lot like what are YOU doing to fix your mistakes. If others mistreat you, don't worry "Karma" will get them. 
Grace. Well grace goes hand in hand with mercy. It's not just a level of compassion and empathy, but mercy can only be extended by the offended person when they know, or are at least willing, to absorb our mistakes. Just like Karma, a mistake, a failure, a sin - creates a movement of degradation or a wounding of a person or relationship. There is a justice that is coming against the one who made the offense, and our world is very sensitive to justice and fairness (we ALL feel this on some level). There is a debt that the offended demands be paid in full. Justice is coming, and we can instinctively feel the hammer blow coming. Grace means the hammer falls on the one who has every right to demand retribution. 
This is what the message of Christmas is. Over and over, our mistakes and sins - yours, mine, the worlds, for all time - demand justice and retribution. They have wounded and broken the relationship with God and with each other. Over and over God calls people to repentance so that they would be made whole again. All of the sacrifices of people, secular, religious, Christian or non, are still an effort against the pending judgement that we all feel. We may try to lawyer up, make excuses, work extra hard, do religious things, sacrifice for our neighbor - but it will never be enough. 
THAT is why Christmas is so beautiful. The baby who would come to mankind, born to a virgin, born under the law of God, would live a perfect life under that law, die my death under that law and rise to life as the first to live beyond the earthly grave WAS ENOUGH! God's Justice was satisfied!! Jesus did this so that he could extend his Grace to us, to redeem the broken relationship between us and God and give us a path forward to sharing God's grace and mercy; the only path to actual lasting peace in this world. Justice is satisfied in Christ's work. Because HE made the payment, God can extend Grace to you and me. And yes, it's free of charge. 
So, which song gives you peace? 

You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I'm telling you why 
Santa Claus is coming to town 

He's making a list, He's checking it twice, He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice 
Santa Claus is coming to town 

He sees you when you're sleeping, And he knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good - So be good for goodness sake 

Oh... wait a second. That may be fun, but it sure sounds like the Santa philosophy has some strong similarities to MY effort and the baggage of Karma. I need more than a Santa! That's why these word are so endearing for so many centuries! 

 O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel 
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. 
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel 

O come of key of David come and open wide our heavenly home 
make safe the way that leads on high and close the path to misery. 
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee oh Israel 

As I've walked through the Christmas season, I feel the weight of all the stuff I need to get done. All the ways I might let people down if I don't do enough, or remember, or do everything perfectly. Santa can be a nice escape and can remind us of the fun and, perhaps like reading "Chronicles of Narnia", there are glimpses of Christian joy in some of the Santa story. But there is just no escaping the reality that I need a Savior from all of the trappings of Karma and "I've got to do it" thinking. 

Santa doesn't have "peace on earth, good will to those on whom God's favor rests" in his bag. But when you look into the manager to see what God delivered to us in Bethlehem, you will find the answer to your greatest need, your highest joy and your most desperate hope. 

The Savior in the manger means God sees YOU! And because of Christ - You Matter. You are Loved. And You are Enough.

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