This blog post was originally posted on December 27, 2012.  Enjoy

God, Santa and Performance Based Acceptance

12/27/12 By Brad

“He’s making a list, checking it twice, he’s going to find out who’s been naughty and nice….”

We all know the words to this song.  It’s a great, fun Christmas song full of good Christmas cheer.  But I think many times, we envision God like Santa.  We think He’s an old, fat man with a big, white beard sitting in some magical place that we all hope to go to someday.  With Santa, we better be good all year long, or else we will get coal on Christmas morning.  He has this mystical power to know everything about us, and he is writing it down so that he can move us from one list to the other, depending on what we do that specific day, week, month or year.  I don’t have any problem with stories or tv shows, etc., about Santa.  In our house, we simply talk about the true meaning of Christmas, and that Santa is just a story like Cinderalla or Toy Story.  We are not going to run and hide from something that is popular in culture; we are simply going to teach our kids the truth about it!
But here’s the problem.  Many of us who are Jesus Followers think that God is just like Santa.  We have to stay on the nice list.  The problem with that is that because of our constant struggle with sin and the flesh, we cannot stay on the nice list!  Here’s the bad news: there is nothing we can ever do to make God love us any more than He already does.  But here’s the good news: there is NOTHING we can ever do to make Him love us any less than He already does!  God loves us with such a HUGE love that we can never do anything to earn it!  I don’t have to spend my time and energy trying to do things that will make God love me!  Instead, I can do the things that God wants because of His overwhelming love that He has for me!  I am so indebted to Him, that everything in me should desire to obey Him because of His love for me!
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died.  And He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God proves His own love for us in that whole we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”
John 3:16-18 – “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who beieves in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Anyone who belives in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because He has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
As you can see from these verses, God acted in love way before we were able to.  And He acted in love even though He knew we would go against Him time and time again!  When we understand that God isn’t Santa, and that He doesn’t follow the rules of “Performance Based Acceptance”, it brings us much freedom!  Not freedom to sin however we want, but rather freedom to obey the way He wants!  Knowing that He will always forgive us when we mess up (1 John 1:9), and that He loves us unconditionally, is so much greater than trying to keep a list of do’s and don’ts.  Does God want us to obey Him?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But we obey out of love for Him because He first loved us, not because we want His favor.  We already have His favor, which should compel us to obey God!
Stop thinking that God is like Santa.  Cause He’s not.  He’s so much greater, more loving, more gracious, more merciful, more forgiving than Santa ever could be.