We have all heard the story of Santa, a fat mythical elf who brings presents to good boys and girls. He watches our every move, and if we are good he will bring us toys.
Parents use the story of Santa as a means of controlling the behavior of their children. They tell their kids that Santa is watching their every move whether they are asleep or awake, so they had better be good or else the mighty omniscient elf will not give them presents. Some kids bought it and behaved well. Other kids (like me) didn't believe in Santa but behaved well anyway for fear that their parents would use Santa as an excuse to not give them presents. Regardless of which camp you fell into, the system did not work. Santa never made anyone good. He only made them act good.
As a child, I acted like a good boy, especially when my folks were watching, because I wanted presents. I was not a good person. I was, in fact, a greedy little brat who wanted toys more than coal and behaved well so that I would get presents. My heart was rotten, but my behavior was good.
The same is true of kids around the world who behave well for the mighty elf. They do so, not because they are actually good kids, but because they want something in return. In reality, they are not good at all. They are greedy little brats who are working the system to their benefit.
And perhaps that is why Santa doesn't bring presents. The story goes that Santa brings present to the good boys and girls. Perhaps Santa, years ago, looked past the behavior of the children and into their hearts. He realized that his very existence merely created a mask of goodness over a heart of greed. Actions do not make a person good any more than painting a tomb white on the outside makes it clean on the inside. Perhaps Santa does not bring presents because there are no good boys and girls to be found.
Fortunately, Santa is merely a fun addition to Christmas and not the whole package. The real meaning of Christmas brings us much greater hope than Santa ever could.
Jesus came to earth as a baby. He would grow up and die for our sins, not because of anything we had done, but because he loves us. He was not just another religious leader who would paint the outside of the grave with a fresh coat applied through the brush of good behavior. He entered the tomb, cleaned it from the inside out, and emerged in victory. He enters all who believe, removes the heart of greed and lust, and gives them a new heart. He makes it so that good behavior is a reflection of the light inside rather than a cover for the darkness within.
The Present has come, but not because you deserve it. You do not. The Present came because God loved you enough to send his Son to Earth, into the heart of darkness, to bring a great light.
Will you accept your gift?