Santa’s Reindeer: Propulsion or Navigation?

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This true “Ask an Engineer” question appeared in 2013 on an MIT website and was also answered by a graduate student. This student deconstructs the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to analyze the navigation, guidance system, and control of Santa’s sleigh. It is a truly bizarre read, but nevertheless, with scholarly efficiency, this student shows the relationship between reindeer, Santa, and a sleigh as a controllable vehicle. By the way, the answer this student came to is that the reindeer are for propulsion and for navigation. I cannot escape the nagging feeling that this grad student missed the point entirely.

Jesus had a very volatile relationship with the Pharisees and Sadducees. There were many times they would come testing Him to see if He would produce a sign to show He was from heaven (Matt. 16:1). Yet, as Jesus did an abundance of teaching and miraculous evidence that He is God, they discounted all of that evidence in the search for “just one more sign” to prove His authority (Matt. 21:23-27). Even as Jesus hung on the cross, the chief priests still mocked him and challenged him to “come down from the cross and we will believe Him” (Matt. 27:42). It can be said that they missed the point of His ministry entirely.

Many approach the Bible and miss the point entirely. Some will study because they think that the more scriptures they know and memorize, the more it assures that they will go to heaven (cf. John 5:38-40). Some will study the Bible to become experts or so scholarly so that they can put down others and their beliefs and find loopholes to prove “right-ness” with God (Matt. 15:1-9; Luke 11:25-29; 1 Cor. 8:1). Some people will look at their Bible to try to justify a sinful practice making observations like, “well, the Bible doesn’t condemn this practice” without ever asking the question, “does this practice glorify God?” (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17). These students of the Bible have missed the point entirely.

What’s the point of our approach to the Bible? Paul sums it up well, “The purpose for the command is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). We honor God in worship because we love God from a pure heart (Matt. 5:8). We serve God and our neighbor as we should because we love Jesus. What we do every day is love God with ALL our whole heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). Don’t miss the point: God and His love for us is our propulsion and navigation!

Andy Baker
Graeber Road church of Christ
Rosenberg, TX

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