After its release in 2003, the movie Elf quickly became an American essential to all Christmas collections. The movie follows the main character, Buddy, on his epic journey past the Candy Cane Forest and through the sea of swirly, twirly gum drops in search of his long lost father. He meets the family he never knew, a world he’d never imagined, and the woman he’d eventually marry! With every encounter he faces, he shares the joy found in Christmas, which—in the end—bonds the world and saves Christmas Day altogether!
A major theme and repeated line in the movie is Buddy’s reminder: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” He doesn’t just share this message with his new family and friends, but he acts on it! In a store filled with bustling customers, he sings. In the office of his estranged father, he sings. In the bathroom, listening to Jovie, he sings!
Remembering this line, Jovie herself stands in a crowd and boldly sings, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in order to spread Christmas cheer. Surprisingly, her efforts are rewarded when the crowd joins her song, lifting Santa into the sky with the power of child-like belief.
As you watch Elf this Christmas, I want you to remember Buddy’s anthem, but I also challenge you to apply it to your walk with Christ in regards to evangelism. Just as the best way to spread Christmas cheer is opening up your mouth and singing, the best way to spread the gospel message is opening up your mouth and speaking.
Notice that Buddy doesn’t write his rhyme about decorating a house or buying more presents to spread the joy of Christmas. According to Buddy, not even living a life of general gratitude will spread Christmas cheer the best. Good, Christmas-spirited actions aren’t as impactful when done in silence. Stepping out and using words—even when it’s awkward, as we see with Buddy—best spreads Christmas cheer. Actions may speak louder than words in most areas of life, but Elf teaches us that words best share good news!
Similarly, the Bible doesn’t instruct that attending church services or being nice are the best ways to spread the joy of Christ. Examine the Scriptures.
- When John the Baptist began his missionary journey, he testified with his voice, saying, “This is he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’” (John 1:15, NIV).
- When hosts of heaven’s angels had great news of Christ’s birth to share, they told the shepherds the news with their voices (Luke 2:9–14).
- When the blind beggar experienced a life-change at the hands of the Healer, he explained with his voice how Jesus Himself gave him sight (John 9:11, 25).
- When the Samaritan woman came face-to-face with her Redeemer, she told her entire town about Him with her voice (John 4:29).
- When those same townspeople sought answers themselves, the Bible doesn’t record that they knew the gospel through Jesus’ attitude. They knew through His voice: “Because of his words many more became believers” (John 4:41, NIV, emphasis mine).
- Look even further to see that when the restored identified his Restorer to leaders, he used words (John 5:15).
- When the believer wanted his brother to know the Messiah, he used words (John 1:40–42).
- When the women shared the resurrection news with their friends, they used words (Luke 24:9–10).
- When Jesus Himself communicated the truth of the gospel, He used words (Luke 24:17–27).
Does Buddy’s extravagant Christmas decorations in Gimbel’s remind others of the holiday? Yes. Does his bright smile and his infectious cheer share the joy of Christmas? Definitely!
In the same way, does being humble and gracious remind others of Christ’s heart? Of course, it does. Does forgiving someone or sacrificing for another’s sake show a picture of salvation? Absolutely! Bearing love, joy, patience, and the other fruits of the Spirit prove to this world that we are in fact born of God (John 13:35).
In Elf, Buddy’s actions pointed New York City to a Christmas spirit, but only his words spread belief. In your walk with Christ, your actions can certainly point this world to Him, but only your words can personally introduce Him.
As you watch Elf during this Christmas season, I hope you take away the shining truth Buddy expresses: the best way to spread your message of good news is to use words!