Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
~2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (The Message)
The movie we are going to consider today is Elf, a well known contemporary Christmas classic. This charming work of fantasy introduces us to Buddy the Elf, played by Will Ferrell, who comes to New York, recently arrived from the North Pole where he lived with his adopted dad and hung out with Santa Claus. Buddy’s arrival at the North Pole was pure serendipity—a happy little accident, considering he was an orphan. Baby Buddy crawled out of the crib and into Santa’s bag when he saw a cute stuffed toy his cheery little heart desired. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Super cute.
The miniature elves of Santa’s North Pole workshop didn’t entirely know what to do with this humongous human child, but they did their best to raise him. Then one day Buddy eavesdropped on a couple of chatty elves. Much to his disappointment, poor Buddy learned he wasn’t really one of Santa’s official helpers; rather he was a stranger in their strange land. This didn’t phase Buddy too much, and he decided to go on a quest to discover his real father, who by the way, appears on Santa’s naughty list.
Here’s a clip: Walter Hobbs.
Buddy is, to say the least, very disappointed, but he doesn’t allow this setback to rob him of his enthusiasm for his quest. To New York he must go! I won’t give away all the fun. You’re really going to want to watch the movie. You’ll laugh and laugh and release a lot of endorphins. Seriously, you need those this time of year especially if you are going anywhere near the mall.
Buddy, who is not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, does possess several endearing qualities: he is unerringly joyous, continually spontaneous, and as loyal to Santa as any of the Christmas caribou pulling dear Santa’s sleigh. Buddy refuses to be dragged down by anything that happens, whether he’s being struck by a taxi or being rejected by his biological father. He chooses joy, he lives joy, he exudes joy. It’s what makes Buddy such a memorable character!
Then there’s Buddy’s father, Walter Hobbs. He’s fully earned his place on the naughty list. He’s just not a very nice person, but somewhere along the way, mainly due to Buddy’s persistence and unabashed joyous attitude, Walter’s heart is won. Walter chooses Buddy over his boss. Walter chooses belief in Santa and the Christmas spirit over cynicism. Walter believes.
Do you know a few Walters? It’s more than likely that you do. Buddy exemplifies the 2 Corinthians 5:16 point of view in regard to crotchety, conniving old Walter. He doesn’t regard him from a worldly point of view. Buddy gives Walter his heart and trusts him even when we can clearly see that Walter is not worth that trust. Walter is a bum in a nice suit sitting in a nice office.
I have to admit that this particular verse in 2 Corinthians challenges me every single time I read it. I have to ask myself:
“Do I truly see people through God’s eyes?”
“Am I really approaching them without preconceived notions of who they are?”
“Do I value everyone I meet knowing that God is crazy about each and every one of them?”
Here’s the bottom line: unless I approach people with something akin to the open and lavish Buddy kind of love, they simply aren’t going to listen to the message I have to deliver. God’s truth (always) says it best:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. ~2 Corinthians 13:1
It isn’t necessarily what Buddy says to Walter that wins him over, it is the spirit in which that message is delivered. If I can’t, with the Holy Spirit’s help, love people and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest then I am not going to be a very effective messenger for Christ. In fact, my efforts will probably turn people off to Christ instead of turn them on to Him. The message I deliver will most definitely not be perfect, because it’s being delivered by an imperfect person; however, it can be authentic and I can be transparent as I deliver it. I am allowing Christ to speak through broken, imperfect me.
“God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.” ~2 Corinthians 5:19
Ultimately, I can’t fear rejection, I can’t fear the awkwardness of a spiritual conversation, I can’t think of myself as too busy to get involved in loving others, or choose to stay within the insular world fellowshipping only with other Believers. I must choose to be intentional in my relationships with others, understanding that if God has laid their spiritual condition upon my heart, I must be obedient and remember that, “God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing” and that “we’re speaking for Christ now.” Simply stated, I must be bold for Christ.
And then, when the power of the Holy Spirit works in us and through us and God’s will is done, and someone believes in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it absolutely not elfin magic. It’s truly due to God’s power working through us, his ambassadors. And ultimately, of course, it is all to His glory.
The deep abiding joy that lives in us as a result of choosing Christ cannot be hidden. Our love for others flows out of our love and gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross. It isn’t magical, but it is superbly spiritual! Embrace the joy of the season and then sprinkle it around like cinnamon on a spice cookie. God can and will use you if you pray to be used. Beloved child of God, take up the task of telling others what Christ has done.
God, make me an instrument of your love and grace. Show me who needs my love today. Help me love others with all the joyous abandon of one who has been forgiven and saved by Jesus Christ. In the midst of busyness born of trying to spread myself too thin, allow me the blessing of letting go of those things that are trivial in your sight. I truly want to be your ambassador showing your love to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Worship Christ the Lord: Angels From the Realms of Glory Now Proclaim Messiah’s Birth…
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.