I realize not everyone agrees on this issue and I am convinced that this is a decision that is deeply personal and that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to deal with it. It has to do with whether it is proper or not for a Christian family to teach their kids about Santa Claus. My parents raised me and my three older sisters to love Santa. They also taught us to love Jesus more. I was moved to respond after being pointed to this video by a friend. Watching the video first will give you the context of my response. What do you think? Be nice. After all…Santa Claus is coming to town!
“Hmm. And we wonder why a lost world shows little interest in Christ. I believe it is in no small part due to the fact that most of us Christians personify what most of them think God is. Some sort of supernatural nanny sitting up in a big, heavenly chair who just loves pointing out how bad people are. That all He does, and then we in turn do, is go around telling everyone what they can’t do instead of sharing the love of Christ with them. With all due respect, I am personally offended every time someone decides to look down from their ivory tower and yell at me because my kids love the idea of Santa Claus.
As a child, I loved the idea of Santa Claus. Still do. My father is an old-school, Bible believing, God-honoring, pastor, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who was somehow, miraculously able to allow all four of his children to love the idea of Santa and yet see all of us come to know Christ at an early age. As a matter of fact, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior in 1977, at eight years old, I had no problem reconciling Jesus and Santa. As I got older and wiser and came to know the things I do now as an adult, I was neither troubled nor confused by the way my parents raised me and the way that we celebrated Christmas at my house.
When my father was pastor of New Home Baptist Church in Titus, Santa Claus was an annual visitor to our church every Christmas season. If we do our job as parents and teach our kids about Jesus, who He is, what He did, and why He did it, then we won’t have to worry about Santa or anyone else confusing them. Don’t tell me that it’s impossible or even difficult. My mom and dad did it four times! I’m trying my best to do it now with my children and had the blessed honor of baptizing my son a couple of years ago. If your personal feeling is to go a different route with Santa then that is certainly your prerogative. Don’t assume that your way is the only way it is possible to lead a child to Christ. Children possess an innocence that, once gone, will never return. Let them enjoy it while they can. The reality of life will meet them head-on soon enough.
My opinion is that Santa is a lot of fun. My belief is that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and on the third day He kicked death in the teeth and lived again so that if I believe He did all these things and invite Him to be the Lord of my life, I can live with Him forever in Heaven. That’s a pretty good deal. A good deal I picked up from my parents while lying awake half the night every Christmas Eve in anticipation of gifts from Santa Claus in my living room on Christmas morning. I guess God still is in the miracle business.”
Tragic. It’s the only word that can even come close to describing the events surrounding the death of Wetumpka High School Senior, Haley Wingard, last week at the hands of an obviously troubled ex-boyfriend. I have no inclination to delve into why this young man made such a terrible decision or engage in any rumors and/or hearsay. What I would like to address are some of the opinions I’ve heard since that terrible night regarding how law enforcement officers handled the situation.
I know virtually none of the details of what transpired that evening, but what I do know is this: Every police officer, deputy, EMT, and first responder’s objective that night was to rescue Haley. Every action they took or didn’t take that night, every decision they made was made with the sole intention of getting her out safely and defusing the situation. Tragically, that didn’t happen. Perhaps, in hindsight, there are some things they would have done differently. Perhaps not. I’m nothing resembling any sort of expert or authority on negotiating hostage situations. I don’t know when negotiating should cease and use of force should commence. The men who were there that night do. They train regularly for situations just as this. Whoever made the call to go in did so based on that training and their own experience. Whoever fired the shots did so based on that training and their experience. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say they are more than a little distraught over the way the situation ended. Who wouldn’t be? They’re human just like you and I, after all. They risk their lives every time they go on duty for a public that seems to have less and less respect for them with every incident that doesn’t end well such as this one. Never mind that this particular team has been faced with at least 207 similar incidents which ended peacefully.
I will leave the discussion, debate, and second-guessing to others who feel the need to do so. Until someone teaches me all the ins and outs of hostage negotiation and rescue and until I’ve been involved in a few myself, I’ll leave it to the professionals. They are good at what they do even though things don’t always go the way they want them to. I’m sure they struggle and hurt and second guess themselves enough when things go wrong. They don’t need anyone to pile on. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to make a split-second decision in the heat of such a stressful, tense, dangerous moment. Most of us will never have to do it because these guys decided they would. For that, what they deserve is respect and thanks from those of us whom they protect. Spare me the armchair quarterbacking. I really don’t want to hear it anymore.