All religions have different ideas about deity—who god is, what he/she wants, what we should do in response—but all of them seem to arrive at the same basic premise: we treat God like a cosmic Santa Claus who rewards us when we do good and punishes us when we do bad. For far too many Christians of the 21st century, god is that cosmic Santa Claus!

When man realized there was something beyond the mind and body and began to seek the supernatural, religion was born.

Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity established the following:

•A concept of who God is

•A list of His expressions

•A list of His expectations

Sound familiar? That’s because we love systems built on belief and behavior. Consider our folklore of Santa Claus from Christmas songs: “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake…” Are you naughty or nice? Will he reward your good behavior or leave you a lump of coal for behaving badly? The reality and truth of biblical Christianity is exactly the opposite of this “Santa Claus Syndrome.”

It’s that season of the year when it’s time to reflect on whether or not Christianity, as we understand it today, is just a belief in a cosmic Santa Claus.

The bible portrays God completely different. God is a Person in a dimension which is beyond flesh and blood. God is a Person who desires to have a relationship of love with people who are of the dimension of flesh and blood. So God became flesh and blood, lived, loved, grieved just like any one of us. Even though He was tempted in every way like us, He was without fault. He lived the perfect life, loved the perfect way. He suffered in hands of the religious, whose very existence He came to over throw. He died, He was buried. But death could not hold Him down. He came back to life.

God became man and did all this on behalf of man not so that we can believe, try to behave and go to heaven. He came so that you and I can have the spiritual dimension in us be reborn, so that God can again have a relationship of love. What we long for—what we yearn in our inner being—is this relational love, which is not a belief, which is not an emotion, but a cognitive reality of the Spirit of God and the spirit of man in embrace!

Why this spiritual relationship so important is like asking the question: why is gasoline or electric power fundamental for a car to function! We are spiritual people who have been designed to live in a spiritual relationship. This is who we are, and that is our manufacturing design. The awesomeness of Christmas is not about Jesus becoming man so that man can believe in Jesus and go to heaven. That is not Christianity. The reason to believe in Jesus is so that you and I can be reset to our original design. Our mind has this unique and incredible capability to cognitively recognize, cognitively relate with God Himself. This has nothing to do with church or Christianity. This is a very personal, private and pure union of love between a supernatural being and a human being! This is where you and I can partake in the divine nature of God Himself. It is this spiritual relationship that transforms our mind so that we begin to listen, think and act like how Jesus lived while here on earth. Jesus went against the religious system, loved those who hated Him, gave without expecting, helped those who could not help themselves and set the example of how we can also have a spiritual relationship and therefore be transformed to live how Jesus lived.

What Jesus did on the outside was an overflow of who Jesus was on the inside. Who we are spiritually transformed into on the inside is what we will express on the outside. We can be the most obedient and holy people on planet earth, but if it is not a result of spiritual transformation, resulting from a spirit that is not reborn and co-inhabited by the Holy Spirit, it is disobedience and un-holiness. Biblical Christianity is not about doing good, it is about being good. For when our being becomes good, our doing will also become good! This is a directly proportional cause and effect formula. A mango tree WILL bear mango fruits. If it does not, then the problem is not the fruit, it is the tree. Jesus came to graft us into Himself so that we will be transformed to become like Him on earth.

Do you see Christians living like Jesus lived? If not, it does not matter what they do, what they claim and what they have, they are not! Do you claim yourself to be a Christian? Then the questions to answer are: do you know if your spirit is reborn? Do you know if the Holy Spirit lives in you? Is your mind being transformed by the Word of God? Do you live like Jesus? Do you love like Jesus and do you live in unity like Jesus?

Perhaps this is the most fundamental question that needs to be asked this Christmas: is the Christianity that we see and hear around us today the Christianity of the bible? Jesus is more than a cosmic Santa Claus. Who is He to you?