“Better watch out, better not pout.. is not really what it’s all about. Get my take on this aspect of Christmas in the popular culture in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
“I’m getting’ nuttin’ for Christmas, cause I ain’t bin nuttin’ but bad.” This encapsulates the popular culture understanding of Christmas—and of God. If you’re “good” then Santa Claus (or God) will be nice to you. If you’re “bad” then he’ll be mean to you. Santa Claus (or God) is judgmental and you have to do what he says—or else! God “does to us” according to whether or not we do what God wants.
But this is irreconcilable with the idea of free will and with the idea of an all-loving, all-forgiving God. Jesus tried to help us understand it better.
You will remember that Jesus taught us to call God our Father. In Aramaic, the word is “Abba”. This translates better to “daddy”. It’s the word a little child would use and it gives us a good sense of our relationship to the Divine. We are God’s little children. Can our daddy ever not love us? He who is Love? There is nothing we can do to make ourselves an “unchild” of God.
Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the “bad” son returns, the father makes no mention of his past behavior. Nothing has, or can, change our filial relationship to the Divine, nor change our birthright as an heir to the consciousness of God – the Christ Consciousness.
So, is there any way to reconcile these irreconcilable and paradoxical views of the Divine? Judgmental or all-loving? I think so. We can see these different perceptions as steps in our spiritual maturity.
A little child sees parental discipline as punishment, but at some point, we introduce children to the idea of consequences. Their actions bring consequences. It’s not simply parents “punishing” a child for misbehavior, or God “punishing” us for sins – it’s really a situation of the child (or us) dealing with the natural consequences of his (or our) own actions. We can choose our consequences by choosing our behavior.
Interestingly, this idea is also found even in the Old Testament. Remember the part from Deuteronomy when the Israelites are just about to enter the Promised Land? God tells them, “Today (and every day, by the way, that’s how sacred scripture works) I set before you life and death…choose.” (Dt. 30: 15-20). God tells us that we really do have the choice—free will—but when we choose our actions we also choose our consequences.
Just as the prodigal son ended up with consequences he didn’t like because he chose actions that seemed fun at the time but separated himself from his father, we also end up with consequences we don’t like when we go our own way and separate ourselves from God. Not that our path in life is ever easy. It is beset with difficulties and challenges at every turn. But the closer we align ourselves with God, the better will be our eventual consequences.
It’s a bit ironic that even after we become adults, we cling to a childish understanding of a judgmental and vengeful God. As we approach another Christmas, let us remember that Jesus came to help us understand our true relationship to the Divine. God is our “daddy” who walks with us through life, constantly watching to divert us from danger, picking us up when we fall, and giving us a loving hug whenever we jump into his arms.
Give God a big hug—today and every day!
God Bless You!
P.S. Be sure to check out the other pages on my website. I’ve added a “Media and Events” page. Now that my paperback copies have arrived, I am arranging promotional and sales events. Be sure to join me at any events near you. I have also added to the "Books" page a list of stores that are stocking my book.