I was just beginning another post which makes reference to the famed "Charley Brown Christmas Tree" when I had to stop and write this one. I suddenly found myself pondering that tree. And I am amazed, and somewhat embarrassed, that I have missed the significance of that tree for all these many years.
In "A Charlie Brown Christmas", which I haven't watched for a few years now, the piano playing and dancing, Snoopy's dog house decorating antics and the Red Baron, and the highlight of the show, Linus' Christmas story, are all great.
My favorite part has always been when Linus takes to the stage and stands in the spotlight and repeats the Biblical account of Jesus' birth. " . . . and that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." But, I have just missed what might be the greatest lesson this decades old cartoon offers.
Charley Brown is tasked with finding a Christmas Tree for the big play. He comes back with the scrawniest, weakest, ugliest, least Christmas Tree looking Christmas Tree on the lot. He is criticized for his choice, and his recognition of the "sincerity" of the tree is scoffed at. The tree itself is dying fast as needles fall to the floor and everyone laughs and walks away.
Here is where Linus tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. And here is where hearts change. The kids go out and take down the decorations Snoopy had used to get his house into a Christmas decorating contest. They take them and place them on the tree Charley Brown had brought. As they back away, we see that the tree is now a thing to behold in its beauty.
When everyone got over their own ideas of what a Christmas Tree should look like before it is a Christmas Tree, and gave of themselves - Linus even gave his treasured, protected, and guarded blanket - what they gave made the tree beautiful. When the Charley Brown kids realized that a Christmas Tree is not a Christmas Tree until it is a Christmas Tree, they saw its potential.
It's the same with us. Jesus knows us for what we are. He knows us for what we can be . . . . what He created us to be. And as scrawny and weak and ugly and un-Christlike as we are, He gives of Himself. It is not that He merely decorates us, He transform us into new creatures. He gives life to a dying soul. He fills us spiritually and makes us strong. Living within, He teaches us and guides us and enables us to be like Him.
The Charlie Brown kids took one look at that tree and declared it unfit to be a Christmas Tree. Jesus never looks at anyone, no matter what lies in their past or what is in their heart, and declares them unfit for His righteousness. He takes us with our weakness and all the ugliness of our sin and He adorns us with His presence. He makes us fit for His righteousness; something that we cannot do ourselves. Have you ever noticed how beautiful each and every one of your Christian brothers and sisters is? It is a beauty that was not there before, but has been there ever since Christ came into their lives.
We have not the slightest idea of what our true potential is until Christ comes into our lives. Just like Snoopy's dog house which was gaudy, "un-Christmasy", and defeated it's own purpose, our own attempts to "be good" and to "do good" and "look good" fall so very short of Godliness. It is impossible to be a Christian by trying to look like one and act like one. But when Jesus goes to work in us and on us there is no more acting, there is only being. And that is a beautiful thing indeed!
If Barbara Walters ever asks me what kind of tree I would like to be, I have answer for her!
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