The beard, the naughty or nice list … it’s how many picture God. So is he just a made-up Santa for adults? Can we know if he really exists or what he is like?
Has science, for example the Big Bang, ruled out God, just as gravity rules out flying reindeer? The Big Bang is an explanation for how the physical world has developed from an initial ‘dense state’, but does not explain how this, or the laws of physics, started to exist. Can something physical be the cause of it all, with no need to ask what caused that? In time and space there is always a ‘before that…’. So could something outside of time and space exist, someone eternal like God? And would he care about us if he did?
What evidence would convince us that there is a creator of the laws of nature and life itself? An act that breaks these laws or creates life itself, perhaps? The Bible claims that God has given evidence, in the life and death of a person called Jesus: a life created from nothing, born from a virgin, and 33 years later, raised from death.
It sounds outrageous … We often want to dismiss anything labelled ‘miraculous’, but remember if God does exist, we’d demand something similar as proof. Is it so strange that God would communicate with us, not merely in words or information, but in the most advanced form – life itself?
But the Bible claims these events are not just evidence of God’s existence. They show that God has not abandoned the world but rolled up his sleeves and got dirty to fix it. He gave us a prototype for life: one of love and forgiveness. From the baby in an animal trough onwards, the most powerful being in the universe showed how real power is so different from how humans have exercised it.
But here is where God is most unlike Santa … He did not come to make a list of naughty or nice, but to erase our record of wrongs. As Jesus died, he chose to suffer death and hell for us, pay the penalty for our wrongs, and offer forgiveness and life after death to those who turn to him. If such good news is true, we cannot ignore it …
The Bible says we need to admit that we’ve ignored God and broken his rules. We need to say sorry and have a change of direction – with God in the picture this time. To make things right between us and God, we cannot rely on our own efforts and goodness, but we need to rely on what God has done for us through Jesus.
The Bible puts it like this … ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been condemned for not believing in the one-of-a-kind Son of God. The Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light because they were not really interested in pleasing God’ (John 3:16-19, ‘The Living Bible’ & ‘The Message’ Translation)