There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Santa Claus came to town. I cannot describe the excitement that filled my small world as Christmas grew near. I wish I could tell you it was all about Jesus, but in my boyhood world it was about presents and presents meant one thing—Santa Claus. Just like we have now, we had an attic in our World War II barracks turned into a house. And every year we would go into this magical place where special things lived and bring down the decorations. We would start early and stay late. While a white Christmas in Florida was never in the offing, a fun time was.
There were certain decorations that were staples in my world—I can see them in my mind’s eye like it was yesterday. One of those was Santa Claus. Now, we didn’t have the whole body but what we did have was his face. Yup! Our Santa face was about two feet tall and about 18 inches wide. It was from molded plastic so it was three dimensional and to me—it was real. When I got just a little older, I got to climb up on the roof (carefully for you concerned moms) and using some wire I would hang our Santa face on the front side of our chimney. But wait it gets better! Our Santa face had a light bulb inside and would light up at night for all the world (at least so I thought) to see. It was magical.
I remember the vibrant colors—the red hat falling down one side of his peachy face, his full white beard, rosy cheeks, and his eyes. His eyes were bright blue and right in the middle of each pupil was a small hole so that brilliant white light could come peek out giving the illusion of just the right amount of twinkle. It was as if I could hear his hearty “ho, ho, ho.” It was more than a plastic face—for me it was the center of my Christmas world.
I’m not sure what happened to Santa. By the time Mama moved out of the house, I was in the Air Force. I’m hoping he is still living in someone’s attic, but probably he found his way to the trash pile…the victim of some relative that stopped believing. But he will always live in my mind. But in my grownup world, I stopped to question. Why did Santa look just like me? Why was his skin so peachy and his eyes so blue? If he loved all the kids around the whole world, it didn’t seem quite right that my Santa looked so…white. What about the African American kids, or the Asian kids, or the Hispanic kids? What about all the other kids? It didn’t occur to me so much back then, but looking back…it does.
Well, having a peachy faced, blue eyed Santa is one thing but what about a peachy faced, blue eyed Jesus? It’s so funny that when I look at a nativity set, there’s a fair skinned, often blue-eyed Jesus. When I see a painting of Jesus in a church, (keeping in mind we don’t know what He looked like), He usually does have brown hair and eyes but His skin is unusually fair for a Middle Eastern man. Honestly, perhaps this doesn’t matter too much unless we begin to think that Jesus is partial to us…no matter who “us” is. You see, just like the kids’ song says, “Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world.” Color never mattered to Him, or the side of town you lived in, or how rich or poor you were. He just loves people.
I loved the Santa that hung on my chimney just the way He was. He wasn’t making a statement…he was just saying, “Ho, ho, ho…Merry Christmas.” But let’s make sure our Jesus, or at least how we perceive Him, isn’t making an unintended statement either. There is a whole world out there who God loves and who Jesus died for. Paul, one of the guys who God used to write the New Testament, said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So, if we are a Jesus follower, let’s get the message out that Jesus loves people…period. And just as important…let’s make sure we get the message out that because He loves people…we love people.
The mission for every Jesus follower is the same—love God, love people. That’s what the Bible teaches, and I figure if we are going to follow Him, we should follow it. It’s not always easy to love people…especially in these crazy days but guess what? With Him nothing is impossible. That’s what the angel told the young, virgin Mary. God can pull anything off—including helping us love others. It’s just good to know that “He’s got this.”