Rudolph is the anti-gospel. For years we've song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but have you ever considered the message?
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!
All the other reindeer laughed at him, called him names and excluded him. It was only when he became 'valuable' in the world's eyes that Rudolph found acceptance. This song typifies the positional authority of the world. In our culture, you are only as valuable as what you contribute. We struggle to be respected, to achieve positions of power and to be loved. But ultimately in our culture if we do not uphold our end of the deal, our position will fall. Everything is dependent upon our self righteousness. Rudolph's acceptance was in his achieving value. This is what makes the song the anti-gospel.
This is what is so radical about the Christian faith, none of us can earn it (and thankfully, our salvation is not dependent upon our own performance). In religions, we are required to give God something in order for God to accept us. As Christians, God earns our right standing, our being in good relationship with Him through the finished work of Jesus. If you add anything to Christ as a basis for your salvation and acceptance with God, you completely reverse and pervert the order of the gospel and make it useless. This is why Paul is saying in Galatians when he says the Judiazers have created a “different gospel,” which is no gospel at all.
Sadly, so many Christians struggle and fall into the same anti-gospel idea as Rudolph. We fall into the trap of works-based-righteousness. Martin Luther writes, “…the real evil is that we trust our own power to be righteous and will not lift up our eyes to see what Christ has done for us…So the troubled conscience has no cure for its desperation and feeling of unworthiness unless it takes hold of the forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ, which is the passive or Christian righteousness.” We all can use some of that passive righteousness Christ gives, knowing we are accepted in spite of who we are.
Are you like Rudolph, seeking the approval of others through your own works? It's something to think about the next time you sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.