I don’t often read anything on HuffPost (unless for some reason I’m in the mood to be agitated). However, today the site had an article that caught my interest.
Apparently, a batch of newly-minted adults have been discovering some ugly truths underlying the holiday favorite “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
One of their main findings? Santa is really a jerk.
Many of us who are older noticed this quite some time ago. Think back on the cartoon. Santa, along with the rest of his deer crew, mocks Rudolph for his non-conformity; just minutes after the poor little guy is born, Santa tells him he had better get it together if he wants to be part of the “sleigh-pulling” band. Later, during reindeer games, he tells Donner–Rudolph’s dad–that he ought to be ashamed and is saddened that Rudolph had shown such promise; but alas! If only he didn’t have that red nose! Because, of course, being different disqualifies you.
And late in the show, when Donner is away looking for his lost son, Santa laments that he is worried about the deer being lost out in the big blizzard. Why is he so concerned? Is it because Donner could be in danger, freezing to death in the wilderness? No; Santa’s frantic because Christmas is only two days away, and he needs Donner to work Christmas Eve!
The final take-away is that everyone was prejudiced and wrong. Rudolph comes in handy because–lo and behold–his unusual nose is actually useful sometimes! He even talks Santa into visiting the Isle of Misfit Toys. (Although, people also noticed that during the credits, one of the elves throws the misfit bird–who can’t fly–out of the sleigh without an umbrella parachute. Kind of like the “turkey drop” in the famous WKRP episode. Happy landings, Tweey!)
Now, I’m not trying to be deliberately sarcastic or cruel. I really do have fond memories of those stop-motion puppets and their adventure. I loved the show as a small boy, and I still like to watch it every year. But while reading the HuffPost article, I started thinking that a lot of people perceive God as being just like that Santa: distracted with His own concerns and generally frustrated with our weaknesses. Also, a lot of churches function like the reindeer gang. If you are too weird, you really can’t be a part of our group; unless it turns out you have something we can use.
This was never the Lord’s intent. He is gracious and merciful and patient with our weakness and foolishness, and He gently, but firmly, draws us into His presence so we can be changed by His mercy and purity. As the church, we should likewise be gracious, bearing each other’s burdens and “…stir(ring) up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
The Holy Spirit is continually drawing people to Jesus. And in this season, when He is breathing His fresh wind into the body of Christ worldwide, we can and should expect the Lord of the harvest to add daily to His church. But remember, a lot of those people will not look or act or think like us. People who don’t know Jesus act like people who don’t know Jesus. This is to be expected.
Yes, God is holy, and He gives grace to His people to be holy. But let us remember that there is huge diversity in His body, and we may even find some “Rudolphs” among us. We will need them for our foggy days ahead.