As I begin to harvest from our garden, I am always reminded of the first garden and the first gardeners. God planted the perfect garden full of all kinds of organic edibles. And in the middle of that garden God placed two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Harvesting the fruit from these two trees still plagues us to this day.
We live in a world that values knowledge above life. Even the icon on my Macbook is an apple with a bite taken out of it. Computers are a tool used to access knowledge, so this is a perfect symbol.
The problem with this is that knowledge is the fruit of that tree in the Garden of Eden. When we seek knowledge we get both good and evil. You can’t water just some of the roots of a tree; you must water all the roots. Hence when we seek knowledge we are watering both sides of that tree – both good and evil.
The Tree of Life is different. Not only is this tree listed in Genesis (the beginning of God’s Word), but it is also spoken of in Revelation 22, the last chapter of God’s Word. How important is this Tree of Life if God begins and ends His holy Word with reference to its existence?
According to God’s Word, the Tree of Life is on both sides of the river that flows from the throne of God and bears much fruit. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. God uses this tree to heal and restore.
When we share our lives with others as we serve Jesus, our focus should be more on life than on knowledge. We must speak life to people by sharing what God has done for us through Jesus and how they can have a relationship with the Lord themselves. We need to meet the needs of those who are struggling in life, but the underlying reason we do this is to introduce them to Jesus as the One who can truly change the course of their life for all eternity.
Too often we want to educate people and fix their situations by showing them the lifestyle choices they are making are harmful. We try to educate them on what is good and what is bad.
The problem is that we are still using the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when we approach ministry that way. But Jesus is the way, the truth and the LIFE. He is the Tree of Life that stands for all eternity. Jesus is the One who feeds us good fruit, and He alone is the leaves for the healing of the nations.
Let’s make sure when we are ministering to people we are doing so from the Tree of Life and not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now let’s go harvest!
Russ Rathier serves as the Vermont regional coordinator for the Baptist Convention of New England.