In the strange digital world we are living in, I recently saw several “news” sources covering this very important story: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was shown on T.V., just like it is every other year for the last 54 years, but this time, people did not like it, or so they said on social media.
I’m talking, of course, about the classic Rankin and Bass production of Rudolph. In it, the other reindeer and even Santa mock Rudolph for his differences, and so Rudolph runs away, makes friends and has adventures, and ultimately saves his family and friends after they come to save him. And then comes the great irony of the story, which is the point of the ubiquitous song, that Santa needs Rudolph’s perceived weakness to help him deliver presents.
This is the part people didn’t like. They thought, considering Santa’s poor treatment of Rudolph, Rudolph should tell Santa to shove it. Rudolph shouldn’t be asked to help someone who treated him so poorly, they say.
But I disagree. This holiday classic is just about as secular as you can get–there’s even a pagan-esque lion with wings–and no mention of Jesus whatsoever. But I can’t help to think about what Jesus would do in Rudolph’s predicament. Of course, the Christ that Christmas is named after would approve Rudolph’s choice to help Santa. He taught that we turn the other cheek, that we submit our back to the smiters, that we pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us.
Most of us have been taken advantage of at some point. If we allow bitterness to consume us, then much of the good we can do in the world stops. Rudolph wasn’t just helping Santa, he was helping the children of the world have a merry Christmas. Such is the case when we forgive others–we end up making the world a better place.
Forgiveness isn’t weakness. It isn’t excusing what the other person has done either. It’s letting go of all the bitterness and hate we have stored up so that we can do good in the world once more. Truly there can’t be a more important gift we can give someone this Christmas. It is what that baby in a manger came to teach us, after all.
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