Elf on the Shelf. Have you ever heard of the “Elf”? I’m sure you have. The Elf on the Shelf phenomenon started in 2004 when a mom and daughter wrote a book and included a 12-inch figure that is a “scout” elf with a mischievous grin.
One of the main duties of a scout elf is that he or she has to help Santa with his naughty and nice list. Most of the time, though, he ends up getting into lots of predicaments (like getting into the cookie jar or pulling the toilet paper off of the roll because it’s fun to watch pile grow - you get the picture). The elf has become a tradition for millions of people. It varies from family to family as to what the elf really means or represents. For our family, Amie or I think of something funny he could be doing and our kids try to discover what he has done.
But it’s the main duty of an elf, at least by the “official” elf rules, that gets the most attention. “Scout Elves go to the North Pole each and every night during the holiday season so they won’t forget a single detail from the day to tell Santa. This helps Santa and your scout elf keep the most up-to-date record of what you and your family have been up to!” (elfontheshelf.com). Desiree Forrester, a mom who has three kids, says that if her daughter “knows one of these is watching her, maybe it gives her more incentive to make the right choices” (article). Yet, there are some people - like psychologists and professors - who feel that this is just disturbing and that it helps encourage a surveillance-type society.
Now is it any wonder that when we talk about God, we sometimes think something pretty similar? God knows everything we do and say and even think. In fact, He even sent a “Scout” down from heaven to live with us. If we aren’t careful, we could easily fall into the thinking that God is no different than Santa and that Jesus is no more than a snitch. Both just looking for us to fail.
The truth is that we don’t need anyone’s help to do wrong whether we are being watched or not. The prophet Jeremiah said that our hearts are deceitful above everything and impossible to cure. So God wouldn’t need to send Jesus down to spy on us. Since that’s true, then why did Jesus come? Jesus came for many reasons, but there are 2 major ones I think of. He came to give true life, not just a little, but overflowing! And He came to be God’s own presence here on earth.
What would we think of a God that just watched us from afar? What about a God who has never gone through what we have gone through? Jesus came to break the myth once-and-for-all that God is not involved in our lives. He came to go through what we go through, to experience all of the pains and joys so that when we cry out to Him, we KNOW that He knows what we feel. And He came to make sure we knew beyond any doubt how special and loved we are to God.
As we approach Christmas just a few days from now, two worlds will collide – the elf’s world of today and Jesus’ birth of “yesterday” – and only one will stand the test of time. The elf goes away on Christmas Eve. But God is still with us - yesterday, today, and forever more! Merry Christmas!