The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
Way back when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, He gave them every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth, and all the fruit trees for food. He also planted the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 1:29, 2:9)
God gave Adam only one command – one condition, if you will. “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
I’ve been thinking about this condition (even though this might be just a parable), and have wondered, if it’s truly God’s word, what He meant by this even now.
It’s clear the Tree of Life is Christ; the Living Water running through Eden is the Holy Spirit, who runs through us even now. There is life in the words of Jesus; in His commands to love God and love our neighbors. There is transformation in imperative to love one another and love our enemies.
There is new birth when the Spirit empowers us to love; there is reformation when He lifts us to offer grace and forgiveness. There is a shift in our thinking and way of being when we see through our Father’s eyes.
So why do we insist on returning to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and feeding off it, thinking it will produce good fruit in our lives? Why do we chain our feet to its roots and judge, exclude, condemn, and dismiss, thinking in the smugness of certainty we know the divine definitions of absolute good and evil, of right and wrong?
We are all called to the mission of reconciliation through the love and grace of God, but not many of us will heed the call. In order for God to work through us, we must be open. We must allow God’s Spirit to flood our minds and hearts in the deepest places. We must allow the Tree of Life to nourish us so we thrive on the unlimited love and breathtaking grace of our Saviour and the constant embrace of our Father.
I too have been guilty of the sin of withholding. As I consent to this abundant relationship with God, I will no longer be stingy with my love, my grace, my forgiveness, my praise. As I am filled daily to overflowing, instead of handing out love and grace sparingly, my desire will be expansive with my love, indulgent with my grace, generous with my praise.
The more we give, the fuller we will feel. The emptiness and fear of feeding on the wrong Tree will be gone for good.
“To withhold praise, and instead stand to the side in critique, dismissal, judgment and categorization, sorting what is not worthy of praise – this is not the divine indwelling. This is not the image of God. This is, instead, precisely what it means to live in a state of sin.” Fr. Richard Rohr*