I think one of the most wonderful things about Christmas is living in the reality that His coming made possible. Let me illustrate.
There are only two possible ways for any Christian to live the Christian life. The Christian can live his life based on the Christmas-tree principle or the Christian can live his life based on the fruit-tree principle.
We are all familiar with the Christmas tree. It is a tree made to appear beautiful by the works of man. By planning and creativity, the tree can become very attractive. This is usually accomplished by hanging decorations and ornate things on its limbs. Some Christmas trees are more lavish than others. Some are decorated with candy canes, popcorn, tinsel, fancy balls and trinkets, cards, blinking lights, other man-made novelties and then crowned with a glowing star or angel at the top.
The chief characteristic of the Christmas tree is that it is unreal. In fact, in many cases it is already dead or in the process of dying. It was dead when the first ball was hung on it; it was dead when the last strand of tinsel was hung in place. All of the things that make the tree appear wonderful have not changed the tree in the least. The Christmas tree describes life before the One whose name is Wonderful came on the scene. Oh the emptiness of a life decorated like a Christmas-tree! It is far from wonderful to boast only of Christmas-tree righteousness! Many a Christian’s life is only beautiful with imitation beauty. How often have we hung spiritual things on our limbs—Bible study, prayer, church attendance, tithing, missionary enthusiasm—anything to make people ooh and aah about how wonderful our tree appears. It is all unreal. Even if we decorated it from top to bottom with spiritual disciplines, it is still only Christmas tree righteousness. We may impress others with our splendid display, but it is just artificial and deceptive.
There is also the fruit-tree principle. The fruit tree also has things hanging all over it, but no human hand ever placed them there. In fact, no human hand could possibly put them there. Fruit is not hung on a branch like a fancy ball. It is there only by a principle of life that flows through the tree and produces it. Fruit is the reality that makes Christmas wonderful. It is not a ball of kindness or a blinking light of compassion hung by someone on the living tree. No! It is real fruit from a living Source. The fruit-tree Christian is wonderful to behold. Nothing is painted, wired or disconnected from the branch. Everything about the fruit-tree Christian speaks of life. Love is not a globe hung by human hands on a branch; it is actual joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. It is living fruit!
The reality of the One whose name is Wonderful, who lives in my heart to make me a fruit-tree Christian rather than a Christmas-tree Christian— that is what excites wonder in my heart.