“Santa is just white… Jesus was a white man too.” – Megyn Kelly, Fox News
Twenty-four Hour Cable News should cause all of us to pause – no matter your channel of preference – and ponder if news anchors have any idea what they are talking about. Not that anyone is purposely spouting lies, but traditions and opinions have a way of becoming fact (for all of us). And in a never ending news cycle, there is no time to close the spigot of information and check sources.
So in the rush for news we find a debate over Santa. Not his reality, but his race. The history of Santa began with St. Nicholas – who was from Turkey. But I think Santa has grown past his historical reality. If you trust the movie “Santa Clause”, then you know the person who fills the role is always changing. And I would suggest his ethnicity is in flux – depending on your own tradition he may be black or white or elfish or …
While I may not know about Santa, I do know about Jesus. The Bible does not give a specific physical description of Jesus, but it does say he had no special appearance (Isaiah 53:2). He was betrayed by a kiss so the soldiers could pick him from among the disciples (Matthew 26:48). This means he appeared as any first century Jew, as a middle-eastern man. I am sure he had a beard, but he was not a white man. Nor was he clean (homeless and first century life made bath time rare). Nor did he have blue eyes as some portraits suggest.
Unlike Santa, we can not imagine Jesus to look like ourselves. But we should rejoice; Christ is not exactly like us. Not just in his look, but his actions. After-all, would we choose to die and save this world of fools?
Isn’t it funny how we find ourselves debating the fringe – rather than the center of topics. We debate the race of Santa, rather than ponder why he isn’t real? Wouldn’t this world be better if there were people with endless wealth and resources, whose very existence was to give everything away to the world’s children.
More importantly, why debate how Jesus looked when what matters is how he acted! God left heaven to live in poverty. He gave up the angels’ praise to live a life of service. He did not seek recognition or power.
We are the ones concerned with such things (recognition, power, possession), and we believe we are serving God by being concerned about these things for him. That is what is at the heart of the fringe debate to put Christ back in Christmas. It is Christians who believe we need to defend this holiday for Jesus. Christians who desire to make sure he receives the praise.
This is a good thought, but it is not the core of Christ. The savior of the world is not as concerned with holidays as he is concerned with humanity. He seeks to bring salvation to all people of the world. And his plan uses his disciples to bring this hope, so his greater desire is this quote I found on Facebook…
At the core Jesus is seeking followers who will act out his love for this world. Red, yellow, black, or white – rich or poor – educated or not – these things do not matter. Nor does it matter what the world thinks. Christ is calling us to love sacrificially. And when humanity encounters this love… well that is what Christmas is all about.