Run Back to the Tree of Life
By: Natalie Wiesen
October 29, 2015
Since our very first ancestors, we have been running. Running from God however we can. Marked by sin, shame, and brokenness, His image marred in us. In that glorious garden many years ago, our first ancestors knew what Heaven married to earth was like. They walked with God in the cool of the day, naked and unashamed. With bounty beyond compare in every area of their lives, they only had one restriction: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die,” (Genesis 2:17). Isn’t it strange that this tree was not the “tree of death?” It seems like this would be the logical antithesis to the tree of life they would clearly want to steer clear of. Why the knowledge of good and evil? What would be so bad, after all, about knowledge of good and evil?
The crafty serpent preys on Eve to question two things: God’s Word and God’s goodness (Does he not use these same tactics today?). He plants a seed in her heart that if she eats this fruit, she’ll be like God and won’t need Him. Pride and Self Sufficiency took root in Eve’s heart and are now branded on ours too. And this is why we run. That restricted tree represents independence from God, which is why it was so utterly harmful and sinful to eat from.
We often envision independence from God looking like the prodigal son in Luke 15 who goes off and squanders everything in wild living. But was not the elder brother in this parable (who typified the Pharisee) just as guilty, if not more? He never strayed or disobeyed his father outwardly. He was the goody-two-shoes. Yet, he was worse off than his younger brother in the end because he thought he deserved and earned his father’s favor and blessing. Those roots of pride and self sufficiency were still alive and well. And then there was the Tower of Babel. What’s so bad about building a big tower with a little hard work, collaboration, and creativity? Clearly the structure was not the problem; it was their hearts marked with pride and self-sufficiency. Ironically, we can still be running from God even by the vehicle of “religion” and good works on the outside.
Enter Christ. The second Adam. In every way that Adam got it wrong, Jesus got it right. His heart was not characterized by pride and self-sufficiency, but humility and dependence on His Father. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me,” (John 6:38).
I have heard faith described as belief plus trust (which it is), but perhaps a more fitting description would include the word dependence. In dependence, we know our weakness and need. We are low and humble. We lean with all our weight on Jesus because there is no other way to salvation and life. In dependence, we rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not our own works, to bring us into a loving relationship with Him. We are filled with wondrous joy over our salvation because our heart deeply knows those lyrics, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. . . how precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed?” And this is why faith (dependence) is our return to the tree of life where we stop running and rest in the peace that is relationship with Christ.