Picked, Purchased and Pruned
Note: The reference to the Christmas tree is simply to draw spiritual lessons.
It’s the time of year when many are picking, and buying Christmas trees. Here’s an outline of things we have in common with a Christmas tree.
First of all, here’s one thing we have in common with the Christmas tree.
A Christmas tree is picked. It’s picked. And when people go to buy a tree, they don’t pick it up right away. They begin to inspect the tree. Study the size, height, branches. Why? Because they have a place in their mind to keep that tree. They have place in their homes or churches to fit the tree.
Did you know that God picked you? Yes, He picked you. ‘God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become His children." 1 Peter 1:2
Do you know why he picked you? We live in a society that needs little more colour. So he placed you in this society. There is a corner of this world that needs little more greenery. That needs God’s love and happiness. So God picked you and placed you there. Great men and women of God have understood this. They know why they are there. Jeremiah understood this and said about God, ‘Before you were born I knew you, I set you as a prophet to nations’. Jeremiah 1:5
Jesus said similar words to Paul. Paul knew his. He said to the Galatians church ‘And God the Father, who raised Jesus from death, appointed me’. Galatians 1:1
When God placed you in this country, in this neighbourhood, in this final generation, in this church, He did it on purpose. We live in a society where life is just an accident. Everything they know is that they are born and they die. That’s it. But the Bible says wrong! God knew you before and he placed you at a certain time, because there is a part of society that needs your service and His love reflected. There is a certain corner in this world that needs your God given ability and talents. So, you were picked by God. You have that in common with a Christmas tree because a Christmas tree is also picked.
Not only did God pick you. He purchased you. When people pick a Christmas tree, people know that they need to pay. You can’t pick it and just go.
When God picked you to be in his home forever, someone had to pay. The bible says God paid this price. ‘God bought you with a high price’. 1 Cor 6:20
God was aware what it would cost him to buy you. He also knew you couldn’t pay for yourself. So he paid to take you home.
Now it’s one thing to be purchased and taken to a home in your country. It’s something else to be purchased and taken to the home of God. One word describes the home of God. Perfect. God’s home is perfect in beauty. Perfect in love. Perfect in justice. Perfect in everything. In one word we describe this world. What would it be? Imperfect in love. We are imperfect. Imperfect in goodness. The Bible says we are all born with a bent to do wrong and evil. We have all sinned. So we can’t pay our price. We can’t pay for ourselves.
Bible says we are born in an imperfect world. So how can God have a perfect heaven and populate it with imperfect people like us?
Well, part of that answer is He pays the price for our rebellion and our sins. And Jesus did this. How did he do this? He did this by becoming one of us.
In the manger Jesus became human like us. That is to say, everything you experience, he experienced. Hunger, thirst. Pain. Not only that, in ‘all points he was tempted as we are. Yet He never sinned’ (Heb 4:15). He was tempted to sin. He could have sinned. But he lived on this earth without sinning. That is to say he never turned away from God even for a moment. He never let his heart get hard toward people. He led a sinless life and because he did that, he could die a saviour’s death. You see I can’t pay for you. I got to pay for me and I can’t pay for me. I need someone who has never sinned to pay for us both. That’s what we find in Jesus Christ.
In the manger, Jesus takes on your flesh. But on the cross he takes your sin. In the manger God says I care. In the cross, he says I care this much. He did everything necessary to take you home. He picked you. He purchased you. But has he taken you home yet? Not yet. We are still here. Sometimes we wonder God, what are you waiting for?
There is one final stage. Having picked us. Having purchased us. He has to prune us. ‘May the God of peace himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again'. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
He has to prepare us. That’s what people do when they buy a Christmas tree. They prune. Take out the branches that are out of shape. Trim it. Cut it. God prunes us well. Some of us fear when he sees how many bents we have. Will he take us back to the Christmas tree shop and leave us there. Oh some people think that because he purchased us because we have these bents in our character, it’s up to us to straighten ourselves or he will take us back.
Have peace by the fact that you have been picked by God. And purchased by God. But you need pruning. Doesn’t mean he will take you back to the Christmas tree lot. He wants you. So God himself will see to it that the ‘good work he began in you is completed and perfected’ Philippians 1:6. Yes, He will ut away unnecessary branches.
Jesus said, ‘My father is the gardener. He trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more’. John 15:1-2
You see God wants to straighten us up. Christ gave himself for us to present a people ‘without spot and wrinkle but holy and blameless’ Ephesians 5:27. Once he stabiles us in his love and grace, he begins the wonderful task of preparing and decorating us.
He dresses us with the gifts of the Spirit. Love, joy and peace and patience. And kindness. Because of these gifts, we take on a sparkle. And most people when they decorate a Christmas tree, they put a star or an angel at the top. God places both over you. When heaven sees you, it sees angels assigned to care for you.
As God decorates you, he places gifts around you. You become in a way, a Christmas tree in society. In your church. In your work place. To your family. You become a holder of gifts. People hang out with you. They think it is such a gift being with him or her. You walk away with a gift of kind word. Listening ear. Because of these gifts, people come to you like you are the Christmas tree. You attract them like Jesus attracted innocent children because of the beauty God has wrapped around you. And sometimes they find through you the greatest gift of all. The gift of salvation in Christ alone. But God has to prune you. The more he prunes the straighter we stand. The more attractive we become. He prunes away our selfishness, pride, hatred, because he is a holy God. ‘No unclean thing will enter heaven’. Revelation 21:27. ‘Without holiness no one will see the Lord’ Hebrews 12:14.
Please don’t misunderstand his love when he prunes you. He loves you so much he is going to cut away you because he has got high plans for you. Your job and mine is to let him to do the work fully. Trust his grace trust his goodness completely. Trust him to trim away all that is unnecessary.
Just like a Christmas tree you are picked, purchased and pruned by God.
The world has a Christmas tree. But God also has a Christmas tree where our minds must focus. If a Christmas tree is a place that is decorated in beauty and under it we find wonderful gifts, then the cross is the greatest of Christmas trees. Peter wrote, Jesus himself bore our sins on a tree. 1 Peter 2:24
Cross was wrapped in the beauty of Christ’s love. When we see the base of it, we see the blood of Christ poured out for our sins. Will you take time to stand beneath this Christmas tree every day? Will you make sure you will open the gifts that are opened at the base of this tree? Grace, forgiveness, power, victory, strength to carry on.
Through the manager God loved you. Through the cross he redeemed you. Through his ministry in the heavenly temple as High Priest, He will ‘save you completely’ (Hebrews 7:25). When you learn to stand beneath the cross, you will find that you are standing straighter.
The greatest tree of all is not the Christmas tree, but the cross where Christ died. And the greatest gift of all is Jesus, and salvation through Him.