Bad News: Nobody Made the Nice List This Year
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
Have you watched a Christmas movie recently that mentions the naughty or nice list? The most recent Christmas movie I watched was Noelle, and every time I watch a Christmas movie that brings in Santa’s “naughty or nice” list, I can’t help but think “how nice do we have to be to make it on the nice list?”
The truth is, we can never be “nice enough.” Every Christmas movie with Santa in it has a different scale for judging naughty and niceness (that’s relativism, by the way). Sometimes it has to do with how many good things the kids have done. Other times, it’s based on if the kid has an inherently good or bad heart. Extra slack seems to be given to kids who’ve had a harder life. It’s also usually only kids being judged as naughty or nice because kids are so innocent and free of sin—right, parents?
At some point in Noelle, there was a crisis because barely any kids made the nice list. The standards for niceness were too high for most kids to pass. I can't remember what came of the crisis, but I remember thinking that in reality, it’s not just kids who don't pass the niceness standards, it’s all adults, too. We all fail the niceness standards. We all belong in the naughty group.
In the biblical creation story, recounted in Genesis, we see that God made woman and man to reflect His character and to walk in perfect unity with Him. They had all the food, love, and rest they needed. And no cockroaches had been created yet. But a sneaky serpent whispered in the woman’s ear, “you could have more.” She took the first opportunity she got to disobey God, and so did her husband.
After sin had entered the world, everything was different, and in the worst way possible. Nasty creature like cockroaches came on the scene. Birthing and having kids became way harder and more painful than before. Work became a burden. And the perfect love and trust they had with God and one another was replaced with shame and insecurity.
Since that day, our feet have been "swift to shed blood," "the way of peace" we have not known and "there is no fear of God" before our eyes (Isa. 59:1-8; Rom. 3:11–18). To say we have been “naughty” is a silly, highly understated way of expressing the natural wickedness of our hearts.
But our hope is this: not that there is a fat jolly man who will give us presents once a year if we’re “nice,” but that Christ died for us—the naughty, wicked ones—and resurrected from the dead, giving those who trust in him the eternal gift of himself and abundant life in him.
In this advent season, we celebrate the (much much) greater Santa, Jesus Christ, who came into the world as a naked, crying baby, giving us the gift of himself. And we look forward to the day when he will come again to judge all and make all things new.
O come, o come Emmanuel...