The Two Trees
To continue the eating theme from yesterday, I’d like to talk about the two trees found in the garden of Eden. Remember them?
…the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ~ Genesis 2:9
The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Two trees. Then what happened?
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17
God created man, planted a garden in Eden, placed the man in the garden, and said, “Eat. Eat freely! Just not from that tree there. Don’t eat from it.” How simple! All humans were told to do was eat. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty nice gig. If only the Christian life was that easy today, right? But what happened next?
The fall. I’m not talking about autumn, I’m talking about sin entering the world and separating humans from God. God then drives the humans out of the garden of Eden and blocks the way back to the tree of life. Now we humans are destined to this life of toil. It’s hard and takes a lot of work. Especially this Christian life, right?
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
I took a bite from the tree of life at age 15, and thus began my life as a believer in Christ. God opened my eyes to see Jesus as His son, and I believed into Him. But what happened after I took that bite? I was then fed from another tree.
I spent the next 18 years immersed in the prevailing institutional system of Christianity. I spent 12 of those years serving on staff at various churches as either a youth pastor, worship pastor, or associate pastor. The majority of all I learned and inherently taught was fruit from the tree of knowledge.
Everything I did was striving toward becoming a better Christian. I was focused on reading my Bible, having a quality quiet time, serving in ministry, submitting to the authority of the pastor, keeping the church board happy, putting together a meaningful set of praise and worship songs, entertaining youth with witty Bible teaching and relevant events, so on and so forth. I had to act a certain way, talk a certain speech, and live a certain lifestyle in order to please God and get in His good graces. The Christian life was hard!
Then, one day, I found an unusual fruit. It looked different than what I was used to eating, but it looked intriguing. It smelled wonderful. It was a simple fruit that was more profound than anything I had been eating up to then. I wasn’t really sure where it came from, but I knew where it didn’t. And I knew I didn’t want to go back to the old fruit.
The Tree of Life
I left the prevailing religious system 5 1/2 years ago. That first year and a half was tough, because I refused to continue to eat from the tree of knowledge, but I didn’t really know how to eat from the tree of life. Then I met a couple of regular guys who showed me the tree of life. They then invited – no, encouraged – me to eat of it and eat freely. I then moved my family half way across the country to be a part of an organic expression of Jesus Christ. And I’ve been feasting on the tree of life since.
In the past four years, I have moved from a laundry list of things to do to please God to one, simple command: Eat Me. See, the tree of life walked out of a garden and planted itself on a hill. The tree of life hung on a tree of death, so all could eat freely. The tree of life is Jesus Christ. And all I have to do now is eat. Eat freely! The Christian life is made simple! It was always meant to be simple, but somehow, over time, humans listened to and followed deception, just like back in the beginning.
Now, I have moved my family clear across the country to help others learn to eat from this life-giving tree. It isn’t always easy, but it is always simple. I am no longer filled with knowledge – I am filled with Life! And you can be, too.
For more on eating from the tree of life, please see the following resources:
The Bread of Life ~ Milt Rodriguez
Taking Christ as Food ~ Milt Rodriguez