[Disclaimer: Of course, these are all corny and some are a stretch, but one thing I have been learning is that we can find metaphors of the Gospel everywhere, even in Elf. So have a laugh, and hopefully, God will even use this to bring you closer to him, but more than anything, I pray this leads you to see the Gospel everywhere and in everything, even in the life of Buddy the Elf.]
This year marks the 10 years since the day we were all introduced to Buddy the Elf. We have all fallen in love with the childish, oversized, man-elf who eats spaghetti and syrup for breakfast, gets hits by taxis while hopping across crosswalks, and draws the Mona Lisa on an Etch-A-Sketch in his free time. When Buddy steps into his father’s life, his father and family can’t help but change. Buddy brings Christmas cheer into the lives of others, and we should do the same with the Gospel in the lives of others. So here are some thoughts I had while watching Elf this Christmas.
1. Smile More
It seems like every time we see Buddy he has a smile on his face and is radiating happiness. No matter what the situation is, Buddy still finds joy. Buddy even says, “I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite!” Those around Buddy can’t help but wonder why he is so happy, and many, in turn, have a better day just because they were around him. As Christians, we should be the most joyful people around. If Buddy has a smile on his face because he is full of “Christmas cheer,” then how much more should we be smiling since we are sons and daughters of the one who is the true reason for Christmas: Jesus.
In Christ we have the greatest hope for what lies ahead, and that should always lead us to see things of this world as momentary and always remember that we have joy that is eternal. Trials will come and go, but our satisfaction and joy should never change in Christ. We should always be wearing a smile, or at least have a positive outlook on life. When we encounter others, they should have a better day because they were around someone filled with the Spirit of joy that comes only from God.
2. Encourage Others on their Accomplishments
Buddy is walking down the street and sees a sign on the outside of a diner that reads Worlds Best Cup of Coffee, so what does he do? Buddy walks in and yells, “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.” So many people walked by that diner and never gave that sign a thought, but Buddy gave them encouragement. As believers, we should always be looking for ways to compliment and encourage others, especially others in the faith. This world can be discouraging and many times we doubt ourselves, so even the smallest gesture of encouragement can change someone’s day. Especially with fellow brother and sisters, we need to encourage one another in the faith just as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
3. Let the Small Things in Life Make Your Day
When he is going to pick up Michael from school, Buddy is talking about his day when he says, “Good news! I saw a dog today!” How many times do we see a dog and just let it go? How many times do we see something great, but don’t take notice of it because it is something we see every day. This quote by Paul Hawken comes to mind,
“Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.”
God created this world with creativity and beauty all around us, and he wants us to be amazed by it and glorify him through it. Let’s take the small things seriously. Walk outside tonight and take in the stars and the sky lit up by the moon. Take your dog on a walk and glorify God for how happy your dog is just to run. Go for a drive. Watch the sunset. Simply enjoy God’s creativity in the small things.
4. Take an Interest in Others and Ask Them About Themselves
Our culture is very inward focused. We like to talk about ourselves, our days, and our plans in life. But God tells us to live for him and others, and I love the way Buddy answers the phone when he is at work with Walter, “Buddy the Elf! What’s your favorite color?” Of course, that’s not exactly why Buddy asked that question, but it is a great reminder for us to ask other people questions for us to get to know them. A great thing to do in conversation with others is to have a couple of questions that will generate a discussion for you to get to know them. One thing we are great at is making small talk about trivial things. We can talk about the weather, sports, or the latest news story, but God wants us to care for others and know each other. Let’s focus on getting past surface level conversations and ask questions that will lead us to get to know one another more than who are favorite sport’s team is.
5. Live for Truth and Don’t Accept the Lies of the Devil
When Buddy sees the impostor Santa in Gimbel’s, he does not go along with the act, but instead, he calls him out by saying, “You sit on a throne of lies!” Buddy knew who the real Santa was, and he was not going to let this guy get away with dressing up like him and pretending he was him. Buddy knew the truth and was not going to stand for lies. This is how we should be with the truths of Scripture. There are people everywhere who are being fooled into believing a false religion that is dressed up to look like the real thing, but unfortunately, they are believing a lie and are not being truly satisfied by the true Gospel. We need to stand up to the lies of the devil, and let others know what they are hearing is not true and will not lead to them being saved.
Satan feeds us the same lies too. He will tell us we need to look like the world. That we need to let go of our faith and live for money, success, and the American dream. When we hear these lies, we need to tell Satan he sits on a throne of lies while our King sits on a throne of righteousness.
6. Be Proud You Know God
Even when people think he is crazy for saying he is from the North Pole, Buddy still screams, “SANTA’S COMING! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!” when he hears he is coming to Gimbel’s. He is not ashamed that he knows Santa, but instead, he is unashamed and wants people to know Santa too. That’s how we should be with God. We have the greatest gift to give others in Christ, and for some reason we tend to keep it to ourselves. Let’s share that gift with others, no matter how crazy they think we are! If we heard Jesus was coming back tomorrow, what would our reaction be? Would we be as excited as Buddy? I hope we would do a lot more than yell and decorate a department store with decorations.
7. Tell Your Story, No Matter How Different it is from Everyone Else
When people ask Buddy how he got to New York, he tells them, “I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.” This story always gets an interesting reaction from people. Everyone looks at him like he is crazy, but it is his story. He lived it. That’s his testimony. If people are going to believe in the North Pole, Buddy has to talk about it as a real place. In the same way for us. If people are going to believe in God, we need to talk about him as a real person. When we share our story, we need to talk about God in real terms. Don’t use words that make him sound distant. Talk about him like he was right beside you, leading you in the midst of everything, because, well, he was! Often times scared to share our story because people are going to think we are different than them, but let’s not forget that’s the whole point of our testimony. We want people to see that God has given us a new and different life that is so much better than the life we were living before, without him.