Let all within us praise his holy name!

Adam Christiansen » God Scripture Worship Gospel Culture

Favorite Christmas song? Go . . .

“Jingle Bells”? I cannot claim to have ever dashed on a one-horse sleigh laughing all the way. “The Christmas Song”? I think that this one misses the mark, too, with Jack Frost nipping, chestnuts roasting, and people dressed like Eskimos (have you ever caught that lyric?). If those two options are not your favorite then maybe something like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? Here is a small sampling of the lyrics:

He (Santa) knows if you have been good or bad
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out! You better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

The message is more profound than it might appear: an all-knowing judge is coming to evaluate your ability to adhere to the subjective law of goodness, so live in fear, but know that you are a good person and you are entitled to good gifts. If not, well, get over it. This is a message without hope. 


Honestly, this is a message that so many Christians replace Christ’s gospel with, believing that they are better than the person next to them (or at least some really bad person out there), and that they deserve good. It reeks with relativism. It perpetuates the lie that we can clean ourselves up enough that God would be honored to have us in his presence. It mitigates the consequences of sin and denies the need for a Savior. Functionally this can look like self-righteous law keeping and it can be very subtle.

Let me throw out my favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night.” Any takers out there? Check out these lyrics:

He (Jesus) knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Truly he taught us to love one another
His law is love and his gospel is peace
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother
And in his name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise his holy name!

What a wonderful contrast between the gospel of Jesus and “gospel” of Santa. If Santa were to check his list a third time, he would be able to take the night off because no one is innocent of the accusation of sin. No one is good and the Bible is pretty emphatic about it (Rom. 3:10–12). Yet we can so easily seek to preserve ourselves in the relative goodness of our legalism and self-righteousness instead of a place of humble gratitude worshiping our King and what he has done for us. Take a look at a few things that Jesus has done for us that we—and certainly Santa, too—could never do for ourselves:

  • Jesus demonstrates the action of love by laying his life down for us (John 15:12–13).
  • Jesus is our good shepherd: he knows us, cares for us, and pursues us (John 10:14–15).
  • Jesus died for us while we were still sinning (Rom. 5:8).
  • Jesus knows our needs, he humbled himself and came to earth and he knows our weakness (Heb. 4:15–16).
  • Jesus died and was raised from the dead so that we might experience new life, being born again (1 Peter 1:3).
  • Jesus has reconciled us to the Father (Col. 1:20).
  • Jesus has freed us from the slavery to sin (Rom. 6:15–19).

Place your hope in the one who came to pay the price of your sin, free you from oppression and give you new life! Behold your King! Let your voices raise in sweet hymns of joy for all oppression shall cease! Take some time this Christmas to celebrate the coming of Jesus on that holy night and experience the wonderful gift of the coming of a Savior.

Let all within us praise his holy name!



Adam Christiansen is the Community Groups pastor at Mars Hill Ballard.

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