Thursday, September 6, 2012


My daughter has a one million dollar bill.  As much as I’d like to use it for a trip to Rio, surprisingly, it is not real. 

Hold on a minute while I think about what I would do with one million dollars.

Anyway, this one million dollar bill is a religious tract that came in a Christmas card one year.  It has a picture of Santa Claus on it, and my daughter snagged it because she is a professional hoarder, and because it is pretty cool – it looks like real money despite the picture of Santa Claus.  She’s had it for years and keeps it in her junk treasures drawer.

Mean Santa is scary in more ways than one.
It contains some scripture and a message about Heaven, God, Jesus, Hell, Death, Sin, and the Bible.  It uses some pretty heavy language which reads:

The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? Here's a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain? Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell.

That’s some pretty confrontational stuff.  I think my daughter secretly likes to read it because it seems scary and mysterious.  But a resolution is on the way.  It goes on to say:

That's not God's will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.
I’m not overly tickled with the tone of this million dollar message.  In addition to it being printed on what at first glance looks to be real money, only to be FAKE (thanks a lot for the slap in the face AGAIN, Santa), I can see it as being a little off-putting to someone who stops reading at “you will end up in Hell.”

I know the context of this message so it doesn’t offend me.  Even my daughter knows where this is coming from, even though it seems a little sensational for kids (I had to explain adultery to her.  Again.)  For someone who doesn’t know the context of this little feel-good message on the Santa Claus tract, I worry a little. 

I think about when I was in my twenties and I made fun of the guy who I thought had a little too much to say to me about being a Christian, and I worry.

I think about when I thought how interesting the psychology of religion is because it doesn’t matter what a person believes, it merely studies how religious beliefs can help or hinder a person in life, and I worry.

I think about when I thought how weird it was for people to use phrases like “invite Jesus into your heart” and are they serious, really?

I think about when I thought that you’d go to heaven if you believed you would, and that your heaven would be true for you, even if someone else’s heaven was different, and that if you didn’t believe in heaven then nothing would happen to you.  You’d just die.  And I worry.

I worry because it is a sensational message, even though I know in my heart that it’s true.  I worry because it seems extreme, which it is.  Like most things sensational or extreme, people either embrace it or turn from it.  I worry because I think about how many people read the Santa Claus tract and make fun of it or ignore it or are offended by it, or stop after reading “you will end up in Hell.”  I worry because they might not ever get the context.

But then I stop worrying because A) it does no good, and B) it does no good.  Like he did with me, God knows when a person needs to hear his message, and he will make sure that they will. 

And that is worth more than one million dollars AND a trip to Rio.
It looks real, right? 
Okay, obviously it's just me.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

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