As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am reminded how this year has been sadly different in our world. My heart is heavier with all the tragic things that have happened due to terrorism in 2015. I am reminded of people who have lost loved ones through senseless hate crimes. There are families that are grieving this year in Paris; in San Bernandino, California; in Oregon, and in Charleston. Family members died because they stood up for their Christian faith in our once Christian nation. When we are making merry with our own families, how can we forget those who have suffered such great losses?
We feel helpless and wish we could do something about all the evil that is going on around us. I am reminded of the scripture in Romans 12:21.”If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
What does it mean to be good? We must be doers of the word and not hearers only. We must be examples to others of the love of Christ and offer kindness and service to others as Christ, who was an example to us. We must be more diligent in our prayers. Our world needs prayers for peace now more than ever.
During Christmas, we often contemplate whether to put up a faux/artificial Christmas tree or one that is real. I have been thinking about how this relates to our faith on a spiritual level.
As Christians, we are to be real which means we have a fragrance that can be detected when someone walks into a room. A pine tree has a wonderful smell. Just the slightest whiff of pine sends our minds reeling with thoughts of peaceful snow scenes. So should our fragrance be to others. I am reminded of the frankincense and myrrh that were offered to the Christ child or the alabaster oil that Mary rubbed onto Jesus’ feet. We know that Jesus carried a holy aura and aroma with Him wherever He went. Others knew they were in the presence of God by His fragrance.
If we are real others can detect the difference once they really know us. From a distance both may appear the same but upon closer inspection, one can see marked variations. No matter how expertly an artificial tree is crafted, there is no way to replicate the actual color, texture or feel of a real pine tree. Having an artificial tree initially seems satisfying on the surface, but once you are around it long enough you sense there is no life inside it and you long for the real thing.
Only a real tree has the ability to produce fruit or bear pinecones. Once a tree is cut, it will not bear any more fruit but the fruit that is still on the tree will remain visible as it stands in its dying state. I am reminded of the scripture in Matthew 7:16 that states …” By our fruit, we are known.”
A live tree must be fed and watered in order to stay alive and keep from withering and drying up. So it is with us that are true followers of Christ. We must stay in the Word of God, in fellowship with our Savior and in prayer to be nourished and keep our spirits alive.
Real trees eventually die. Just as Christ gave up His life for us, so must we learn to live our lives in love for one another. 1 John 3:16 in the bible says “We know what love is-Jesus laid down His life for us. We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”