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Parable Tree
Photo: MorgueFile
I was enjoying the winter evening curled up on the couch under a throw blanket. The twinkle of the Christmas tree lights and the winter wonderland outside brought peace to my soul.

I’d sensed something special about this tree as I set it up, but I’d been at a loss to articulate it. It certainly wasn’t a picture-perfect tree. For starters, junipers aren’t typical Christmas trees, and this tree’s shape was far from symmetrical.

Our little juniper was an unremarkable tree, but we’d chosen it for our first Oregon Christmas. Bringing it inside, we put it in a stand and strung some lights on it. Light-weight decorations were all its little boughs could support, so we left the heavier ones in the box for another year and a stronger tree. As it stood in our living room, the little juniper’s shape became more apparent. Some branches stuck out farther than others, and there was an open area among them. Most certainly the tree had not been carefully pruned to attain the perfect Christmas shape.  Had it been for sale on the Christmas tree lot, it would have remained there well past Christmas day.

The Tree's Defects Faded into Insignificance

Yet as I lay there on the couch, the parable of the tree became clear. The tree’s defects faded into insignificance as the lights glowed brighter in the darkness; it actually seemed to be beautiful and symmetrical. It was then that I finally heard the message of our Christmas tree.

The tree wasn’t the focus. The lights and the ornaments were the focus. The tree was there to hold up the lights and other decorations.

Isn’t that how we’re supposed to be as Christians? We may be deformed and broken by sin, but our goal isn’t for people to focus on us. We’re here to uphold the light and beauty of Christ. When we do that, others will be attracted to Him, not to us. We’re just instruments to display God’s love and unfathomable beauty to the world.

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By Tammy Ledbetter. Reprinted with permission from Signs of the Times December 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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