Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3
Have you ever played Telephone? That silly game where you whisper something to the person sitting next to you, they whisper it to the person sitting next to them, and so it goes around the circle — until it gets to the end and the original sentence is completely changed? Christmastime gives us two real-world examples of just that. Stories with potential to change. With these two stories though, we must be careful; one is innocent enough, a thing of Christmas legend, fun, and folklore. And the other? If it changes, it can be deadly to our souls.
First, on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey we have the story of Nicholas, born in 270AD to wealthy, Christian parents. While still young, he received his inheritance and spent it on others over the course of his life, according to Jesus’ command to “sell what you have and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21). He was appointed Bishop of Myra, and he became known for his generosity, concern for the poor, and love of children. Over time, Nicholas became Saint Nicholas, eventually Saint Nick, and more commonly, Santa Claus. His story changed, but as they say—no harm, no foul. He’s folklore now. A symbol. In essence, he is what you make of him.
On the other hand, Jude, the brother of Jesus, wrote a short letter encouraging Christians to not change the story of Jesus. “Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” Take the Advent story—the coming of the Messiah—and fight to keep it pure. Don’t dilute it. Don’t change it. The God-man took on flesh to live a perfect life for us, to die a substitutionary death for us. That story is perfect—and the only story with the power to save. It’s been passed down to us, and now it’s our turn to faithfully deliver it to others!
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