A Throne of Lies or Grace: How To Spot the Real God

Maybe you’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve seen it so many times, you have the scene memorized: Buddy the Elf, played by Will Ferrel, is beyond excited that Santa will be coming to the department store.

But when Santa arrives and invites a boy onto his lap, Buddy senses that something is amiss. He gets right up close to Santa and asks: “Who the heck are you?” And despite the man’s reply that he is, in fact, Santa, Buddy does not believe him. He urges the boy on “Santa’s” lap to keep his Christmas wish to himself because “The man is a liar!”

Then, leaning in close to the imposter’s face, Buddy whispers: “You disgust me. How can you live with yourself? You sit on a throne of lies!”

The situation escalates from there, but his accusation about sitting on a throne of lies has always stuck with me. Buddy can be so confident that this Santa is a fake because he has spent so much time with the REAL Santa: sitting on his lap, working in his workshop, eating meals together. Consequently, he is able to recognize the fake Santa immediately.

Would we know him?

If God had instead chosen the 21st century to send his son, would we recognize him today? Could we spot him among the homeless or refugees? Would we believe his claims to be the Son of God if he was flying in the face of our Christian conventions? Or would we be looking for someone who looked like us and acted like us?

It’s easy to make God into our own image rather than engaging in the life-long process of discovery, especially when we consider that our knowledge and understanding of God will always be incomplete this side of heaven.

How to spot the real God

But God did not choose to stay shrouded in mystery. He sent us Jesus to look to when we wonder What is God like? God revealed his character in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, all of God’s creation points back to him.

Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day did not recognize him as the Son of God. They were expecting a Messiah, the kind of savior who would rescue them from the hands of Rome and establish a geo-political kingdom. Instead, they got a baby, born to a poor family and who spent his first years as a refugee. Instead, they got Jesus, who was humble and gentle in his ways. Instead, they got a man who preached against sin—not Rome—and who flipped their religious traditions on their head. No wonder the more learned among them didn’t recognize them.

Approaching the throne

We can come to recognize the real Jesus. Just like Buddy the Elf knew the real Santa because he spent time with him, we can spend time with God and pay attention to the movement and whispering of the Holy Spirit within us. God wanted us to know him, so he sent us Jesus—Immanuel—to show us the way.

As Christians, we do not worship a king who sits on a throne of lies. We worship Jesus, who sits on a throne of grace. Consider:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)

This Christmas season, we remember and celebrate a God who clothed himself with skin, who made himself small—as small as an embryo—who allowed himself to be utterly dependent on created beings. Because Jesus was fully God and fully human, experiencing all the natural joys and indignities of life on earth, he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, enabling us to approach him confidently, knowing we will receive his grace.

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*Feature Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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