Tree of Life – Part 2
A Look at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God in innocence. Everything they experienced was positive. The conversations were up-lifting and educational. The laughter was shared freely with God. The man and the women enjoyed the greatest blessing possible – face to face relationship with God, and all the joy that came with the experience. No one accused the other. No one mocked the other. They were not afraid of each other or their creator. They didn’t know they were naked, and they didn’t make issues out of things that were never issues before. They trusted God, and never doubted His word. Why would they? He’s Father. He knows what He’s talking about. Their faith was simple, their attitudes pure. No one challenged them. No one doubted them. No one judged or criticized them. Everyone’s attitude seemed positive and optimistic. This was a great life, and included that close loving relationship with God.
Now enters the Serpent. The snake asks an interesting question. The very question itself introduces the women to a new thought she had never pondered before. For the first time a challenge to God credibility washes across the women’s mind. The unthinkable has been thought.
“Mankind, can you really count on God to always have your best interests in mind? If so, why is He saying you can’t know all things including the difference between Good and Evil? If so, why does He not want you thinking in different patterns than the one He has given you, and what’s so wrong with you clearly seeing evil and wrong in other people? What is God keeping from you? Why is He keeping it from you? Will you really die if you start to think differently from God?”
Even the concept of challenging the status quo was a new manner of pondering for the women. She had never heard anyone bring up such questions before. This new thinking was eye opening and somehow empowering to the women. The incipient hints of independence began to fragrance the mind in an invisible way. The first undetectable aroma of self-will touched her heart. The first seeds of hell are being planted in her spirit even before she eats from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
After this challenge of God’s integrity toward mankind, Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE to save my typing fingers). Their eyes are opened. Opened to a whole new way of seeing. Open to a whole new world view. Open to a new value system.
First, they notice each other’s nudity. They had always been naked and it was never an issue. Now it is. They embarrassed each other, for the first time. They feel shame in their hearts for the first time. Instead of working together as they always had, they now separate and cover themselves with fig leaves before coming back together again. The TKGE now becomes a new way to live, not just think. Separation and embarrassment become a part of relationships now.
But, not just separation on the human level, but also in human-God relationships!
Now Adam and Eve’s best friend, God, returns. Fear now enters the human race, and Adam and Eve run and hide. They moved away from God with this new way of thinking – this new value system. They had disobeyed their best friend and parent. Guilt enters the human race. Fear and guilt in the human heart lead to a new action. The man and women now run away from God instead of toward Him.
Judging and evaluating each other, covering up, and running away from your best friend – not exactly impressive fruit from this new way of thinking is it? Whatever happened to that simple innocence in the Garden that was so fulfilling and fun? What ever happened to that child-like lifestyle where no strategy and coping methods have to be invented in order to survive emotionally? What ever happen to that peace and joy they once experienced, free from fear, shame and guilt?
Adam and Eve’s best friend offers them a pathway back into walking with Him in the garden. The route is called confession and repentance. With the new way of thinking learned in the TKGE, Adam and Eve choose the road of self-justification and victimization. Adam is so quick to point his finger at Eve and play the role of victim himself. Under the influence of the TKGE, Eve is quick to point her finger at the serpent, and claim the role of victim for herself. Everybody is an innocent victim and somebody else is to blame. Blame? That is a word never heard in the Garden until the eating from the TKGE.
“God, the woman you made is to blame for my guilt.”
“God, the serpent you allowed in the Garden is to blame for my guilt.”
Now we have a new value system and world-view. The world view is through the eyes of a victim. Everyone else is to blame. The value system allows the people to know, judge,and blame.The victimization and the judging and condemning of others creates even more division in relationships.
So there you have it. With this new enlightened way of thinking, God gets blamed because He put the TKGE in the Garden to start with, and He allowed the serpent free time with the humans. Yes, sir, it’s all His fault! If He really were a God of Love this would never have happened! If He were a responsible God the serpent would never have been allowed into the Garden. If God were on the ball He would not have been absent and shown up late on the scene. Yes, this TKGE thinking is amazing, isn’t it. You can so clearly see in 20/20 vision everybody’s fault in the entire known world. In fact you can even see into the spirit dimension and see all of God’s mistakes too. Amazing stuff, this TKGE.
What is really amazing is how the world buys into this way of thinking, and sometimes even ministry leaders. Yes, even entire congregations get caught up in this manner of thinking. In Genesis chapter 3, God tells us definitively that the TKGE leads to death. Even the Good in the TKGE leads to death. Stop and consider that for a moment. It’s not just the evil that leads to death. It’s not just sin that leads to death. Even the Good in the TKGE leads to death, regardless of how correct it sounds and looks. So many in the church seem to totally forget this fact. You can sense it though, especially if you live in the tree of life. You can sit in a congregation, and feel or sense the spirit of death in the room.
But do we believe it? When you find the basic characteristics of the TKGE manifesting in your life – fear, greed, control, judging others, displaced responsibility, victimization, etc – do you consider the fact it leads to death? Do we really? Sure, big time sin leads to death, but do we really believe pointing our finger at our mate and blaming them because we are late to the meeting – that action and attitude leads toward death? Is does! Anytime we get into victimization, “If it weren’t for my parents, I would be a normal person.” “If my mate would just understand.” “If we had a decent senior pastor this church would double in size.” Anytime we get into that type of thinking, judging, condemning, we are taking a step toward death. Beware of members who huddle after services discussing the pastor and his approach. What are they saying? Why are they saying it? Are they really any different than the huddle of two humans and a serpent in the garden? Will the fruit be any different?
What if you are right in what you are speaking? Sorry, that matters not. You may be 100% right. Perhaps that deacon is a gossip and a liar. In the Tree of Life you would speak words of life into that deacon, and bless them. You would love him back into life and befriend him. If you get caught up in pointing the finger and judging – even if what you say is right – it is what we call empty victory. Your right! Congratulations! Have a great time in hell, because that is where the TKGE will take you.
By now several examples in your own experience have come to mind. You can recall deacon’s meetings, or elder meetings where the spirit of judgment filled the air and nobody left feeling edified. I have spoken in legalistic judgmental churches where the spirit of death was so thick it felt like a Colorado snowstorm. Perhaps a person or two comes to mind that has a spirit you can’t stand being around. They are negative, critical, and seem to have a dark doomsday cloud hanging over them. Nothing anyone else does is right. This person has built a permanent residence in the branches of the TKGE.
Think of those people you have served that were always making issues out of matters no one really cared about. Remember how they gathered their troops and supporters around them? How they kept building the issues up in the minds of anyone who would listen, and finally you had to take the time and gut-wrenching stressful effort to try and deal with an issue that had next to nothing to do with promoting the Kingdom of God? Remember that? I thought you would. When the spirit of death starts ruling a church the leadership usually doesn’t forget such “fun-filled-times.”(do I sound a little sarcastic? Maybe I need to swing back into the Tree of Life before I write any more of this booklet!).
Before taking a deeper look under the bark of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, give yourself a good self-examination and see how much you are swinging in the branches of the TKGE.
When you do an exam of your deep inner heart, how much damage has been done to your hope and ideals?
Honestly, have you been angry at God and taken it out on others, like mate and brethren?
If you have been dis-illusioned in your burnout experience, do you now recognize the illusions that became part of your belief system?
Have you ever challenged God’s integrity toward you by being insulted that He allowed this pain in your life?
In your ministry and personal life have you been tempted to “cover-up” something or many things?
How well have you given others their freedom?
Do you notice control tendencies in your leadership style?
Have you ever been told you were a control freak?
Do you practice giving people their freedom to such a great degree that you would leave people alone in the Garden with the Serpent?
How much has fear and guilt played a role in your relationships within ministry?
In your burnout have you answered Father’s call to come out of hiding, confess and repent of any wrong doing on your part regardless of other’s sins and mistakes?
Are you running away from God right now?
Be honest and ask yourself, how easily do I point the finger and slip into victimization?
Are you still playing the victim now? Are you sure? What would your mate and children say?
Do you still have a deep need to tell your side of the story in the great conflict that brought on your pain?
Have you ever rallied your troops and supporters around you in a church conflict to oppose the “other side?”
Looking back over your ministry, can you remember times when life flowed through the congregation and how wonderful that was? Can you recall times when death flowed, and how hopeless it all seemed? List some of the differences between these two seasons in your ministry.