Are You On The Good List?
Christmas is rapidly approaching and the pressure is on for little boys and little girls who feel the strain to behave themselves so that they will stay on Santa's "good list." I know my youngest child has been preoccupied with whether or not she is on the good list. Although I do not promote the idea of Santa Claus, she is inundated with images, cartoons and talk of Santa Claus by other children and adults alike. Perhaps this is why she is not taking any chances. Additionally, the weight of all that is riding on her behavior has evidently even caused her to attempt to find a way of escape. The other day when her mother corrected her after catching her disobeying, she responded, "You're going to get me on the bad list!" She responded as if the rules or the enforcement of the rules was the problem instead of her behavior being the problem.
Many people never grow out of this mindset. Maybe it is the way we are reared. Possibly it is the mindset of our society. Peer pressure turns many into people pleasers. Also, we have been told so often in our society that our behavior is not our fault that many have no problem blaming others for their shortcomings. This mental approach to life often carries over to our religious mindset. "How can I be good enough to be accepted or rewarded by God?" we wonder. "If there were not so many rules in the Bible I would be interested in God," others say.
People with these misgivings need to understand what my daughter needs to understand. Pleasing "Santa" is not important. The rewards of a good life and good behavior come more often than once a year. Furthermore, God is not impressed by our rule keeping ability, but rather with the condition and content of our hearts. Obeying the laws of God or humanity is great and necessary; however, it is the inclination of our heart that truly determines our behavior. God does not use rules as a goal for us to reach or as a means to trip us up in life. He is the goal. Knowing Him is the prize and there is no way He would hinder us from that. (John 6:35-37)
God stands ready to impart the greatest gift of all to anyone who would ask for it and be willing to receive it. With God, Christmas is not about being "good enough" or meriting gifts. Christmas is about unmerited goodwill. The Bible calls it "grace." God the Father set the standard for giving - not Santa Claus.
Note the description of God's Christmas gift to humanity. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14 NIV This gift is for everyone on his list and everyone is on his list.
Everyone can expect to be accepted by God if they turn to Him, either because they are His or because they were created to be His. And just as I am not looking for a way to deprive my daughter of anything, neither is God in heaven looking for a means by which He can avoid giving to us.
After all, who can actually merit the gift given to humanity some 2000 years ago bound up in the form of God's only begotten Son? This is why Apostle Paul reminded us, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
God's grace has placed each of us on His gift list, but only we can freely choose to receive what has been so freely given.