~note from John – I originally wrote this for a 2017 Christmas email that I send to my friends and clients. I ran across it recently and thought I would re-post it this year. ~
The Naughty List – every child’s bane.
Please take a moment and think about when you were a child. I mean little – three or four or five years old. Did you ever question why Santa had a Naughty list? Or did it make sense?
Maybe you’re old like me and can’t remember that long ago. OK – so think about young children that you know now. Have you ever heard one question the reason or necessity for a Naughty list?
Nope, me neither.
I’m not talking about an advanced pre-teen or a rebellious teenager asking this. I am focusing this question on the very young for a reason. They are as close to a tabla rasa as any secular philosopher might imagine.
Tiny kids do ask deep questions all of the time. Why is the sky blue? Why do you go to work? Why can’t I have a hedgehog?
Yet… have you ever heard one ask, “Why does the most benevolent person I’ve ever heard of have a list of people that he and he alone has judged as unworthy of gifts and deserving punishment?”
Why does no child question the justice in this?
Hold that thought. I will come back to it later.
Karma – do you believe in it? Not “you” in general but ~~ you ~~ as in the person reading this email right now. (There’s a 70% chance you’re reading this on a iPhone or iPad. Yes, I study this.)
Do you believe in the concept that “what goes around comes around” or “everyone gets what they deserve eventually.” That’s Karma.
Pretty much everyone I have ever met, regardless of nationality, religion, faith, or lack thereof, would agree with one of those two above statements.
Even people that scoff at the idea of God (whom they, by their own definition describe as an ‘old man in the sky watching us all’) adhere to the concept that everyone eventually gets what they deserve.
Lukewarm Christians do, too. Ditto ex-churched Christians (e.g. “I used to go to church but they are all a bunch of phoneys so now I stay at home and am just a good person”). Hollywood is all about Karma – but so derisive of God. All of these people live their lives in belief of a mysterious balancing force called Karma but are way too intellectual to believe in God. God is for dummies. For sheep. God is anti-thought and anti-science. We are so enlightened, we don’t believe in God…… we believe in this mysterious balancing force.
Never mind that this balancing force, call it Karma, whatever – is doing the very same things that they find so offensive in God (declaration of right and wrong, judging the heart, rewards, punishments, etc).
Christians believe that God takes a look at our hearts. He judges us as either perfect or sinners (spoiler – I am a sinner and so are you). Then he deals with us in his perfect justice.
But here’s where the Christian faith gets interesting –> unlike any other world religion, unlike any other dogma, unlike Karma or anything else –> God also provides the solution. The only being who ever walked the earth and was perfect – Jesus – came to pay the price. Jesus is / was the solution.
God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. Yes, God judges us. Yes, we all are guilty, each and every one of us. Yes, His justice is served.
But not on you! Jesus paid the price for your sins. John 3:16. When Jesus died on the cross for you, His righteousness was counted as yours. He paid it for you. Not “you” generally, but you specifically, wherever you are, breathing and thinking and reading these lines. Your name was in His book long ago.
The first step is admitting that there is a problem. In this case, it’s admitting that you need a Savior. It’s admitting that there is something wrong with yourself. It’s deep inside you and you can’t fix it without help. Christians call this sin.
That’s why I think it’s interesting to point out that no child ever questions the existence of Santa’s naughty list. Intrinsically, we know that there is light and shadow. Without being told, we know there is “naughty and nice.” At the most initial forms of our intellect, we know that life is not relative.
Without being told, even tiny children know the truth – there is such a thing as right and wrong.
Once you come to grips with the fact – yes, the fact – that there exists right and wrong …. I think the only logical path for the intellectually honest is to admit a supreme being behind it. A creator.. a God.
The story of Christmas is how God came to earth to pay the price for all of His Children.
That is the most beautiful story ever told.