I have recently been pondering this simple yet significant trap. Christianity is a belief system based on a worldview to which most western Christians do not ascribe. Continue Reading
So recently I’ve been a bit taken by the perceptual mechanisms that Adam and Eve might have had that we do not. We see in Genesis 2 that there were trees in the garden (I know what those look like) and these trees had things like knowledge and life growing on the branches (I have NO IDEA what those things look like!).
Dallas Willard has described our modern version of Christianity as the “Gospel of Sin-Management”, because of our propensity to think in terms of “what do I do about my sin?”. How do I stop, it? Is it sin if I…? What do I do when I do sin? How do I control my “besetting sin”? All these seem to be the central focus of christian practice. If not preventing or managing bad behavior, we are trying to foster “good” behavior. Read your Bible, Pray more. All these things seem so different from what Jesus seemed to say and do for people. How odd that the religion we named after Him promotes itself differently than He did.
It seems to me that when we go back to God’s original blueprint we might adjust (again) our view of the message and work of Jesus.
God had always intended to cover the creation with His nature, and He has always intended that His method be mankind, re-presenting, or presenting again His nature in the places we inhabit. When Adam and his wife turned the keys over to God’s adversary, God was not confused, frustrated, or shocked. This was all still part of His strategy to achieve His goal.
Part of His nature is that He is a Redeemer and and a Repairer, so to cover the creation with that, He would redeem and restore mankind. In so doing, He could resume covering the earth with Himself. As He re-forms His image in us, we re-present Him as we go. Where confusion has been we can bring clarity. Where fear has been we can deliver perfect love. Where anxiety has been, we can step in and restore peace beyond understanding.
Sure, these things don’t work as well when we are arm-wrestling our own behavior patterns, but winning the behavioral struggle was not the ultimate goal of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The cross allows us to be reconciled again to God, so that He, in us might fill the world with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness, mercy and self-control.
In other words God’s goal was not to straighten out a bunch of mis-behaving miscreants, it was to bring sons and daughters back into a relationship in which His life flows through us to the creation around us.
Try hard to be good if you want, but you could just yield to a very effective transformation process, in which God Himself is making you again into the person He designed you to be. Would it make any sense at all for God to make you, and then expect you to be someone other than who He made you to be? Become Yourself….
“That sounds great but how do I DO it?” This is the most common response to conversation about the Tree of Life. People begin to sense the stirring in the room when the conversation arises, and, like the aroma of popcorn, it makes them desirous. Then, their next responses tell me whether or not they are “getting it.” Continue Reading
The last several posts on the difference between knowing God and living by the Knowledge of Good and Evil are designed to really help us sort out the thing that Jesus admonishes us to “seek first”. As I continue to look for ways to convey this all important distinction, it came to me. The key question is, are we a receiver or a generator?
A receiver has no use or function without a broadcast source, and is only limited by the limitations of the broadcaster.
A generator is it’s own source, and is therefore limited to whatever it can produce.
Life connected to the tree of Life, the Living and Active Breathof God, makes us receivers.
Life by the Knowledge of Good and Evil makes us generators. We produce from our own storehouse, and interpret through our own lenses.
That’s all I’m going to say about that. Anything else would just be me trying to be a generator.
“Watch, I’ll show you what I’m made of,” we say when we want to show others our strength or capabilities. Wouldn’t it be cool to figure out what we are really made of? And I don’t mean like skin and bones. I mean how we are put together.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete… 1 Thessalonians 5:23
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
In the Bible we find an account of the creation of man that can be really helpful in figuring out the make-up of our being..
“God formed the man from the dust of the ground…”
God formed a physical structure which had no life in and of itself.
…He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…”
The Spirit of Life, the Spirit or breath of God entered the inanimate form
The man became a living being…( a self or a soul)
The man became an independent entity, still containing the breath of life, the Spirit of God.
Man became a physical form, made to be an independent being (a soul), containing the breath of God. What made the man who he was came from the fact that he was born from the breath of God.
Living from this center, from the Breath of God, meant that through his physical self, God Himself was empowering Adams life.
When Adam sinned, it was the Breath that left him. The “self” remained, but it was disconnected. A soul without the Spirit. While the spirit had been the way the man connected to God and the spiritual realm, the soul was how the man interacted with his natural environment. Without the Spirit his mind, his will, andhis emotions, became his source of power, and source of truth.
When we are “born again” it is this Spirit which is birthed in us, or gives us birth from the Heavens (spiritual realm).
Once the Spirit of God is re-established in us, we are still faced moment by moment with the exercise of the will as to whether we will live from the Spirit within us, or whether we will live out of our soul.
Living by the Knowledge of Good and Evil still has us living from the soul, our disconnected self. Knowing God, the Tree of Life, restores a power source, greater than us.
Thinking from the mind, will and emotions is different than tapping into the Spirit of God and having your mind renewed. This is the kind of “thinking differently” we are after.
When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, I am certain that the Garden was also kicked out of them. Life in the Garden was filled with unique attributes. Life outside….well, let’s look.
After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17
We first must understand that all of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. It has been translated through the generations to give us the English Bibles we have today. Translation is a tricky process, as you cannot take the translator out of the process. Translators have their own perceptions that affect the process. Kind of like human communication in every arena. Teaching in other nations, when my own interpreter does not understand the concept I am conveying, they cannot accurately convey the meanings embedded in a teaching.
Let’s look at the verse above through different eyes. Anytime our eyes view God as mean, or rigid, we must assume we are viewing Him incorrectly. I fear verses like those above could lend us to viewing God incorrectly.
First, the story. Adam and Eve have just sinned, and God has come to describe what comes next after their mess-up. They took into themselves the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This changed everything, and God began to adjust some things to go with this new circumstance. His last adjustment is described in the verse above.
He set a cherubim with a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. Darn that cherubim. Stupid sword…we should be able to get to the tree of life. Shouldn’t we?
What if the english here is not an accurate picture of what God set in motion. We picture a vigilant guard, standing in protection mode to prevent access.
The “Flaming” sword does not imply flames for intimidation or destruction, rather the Hebrew word here, “lahat” means “enwrappping” or magic, covertness, and is sometimes translated as enchantment. The word implies then, that whatever is happening with this sword has an effect on perception. Add to this the word “haphak” which we translate “flashing back and forth” and is more accurately understood as changing or distorting, and we see that this cherubim is using his sword to disguise or hide the WAY through distorting or disrupting our perception.
Now, what is he guarding through this method of disguise, the tree? No, even the English says he is guarding, or distorting the way to the tree. So our mind pictures him blocking a path. But the Hebrew word is “derek”, which can mean a literal path, but more strongly indicates a mode of living , or a course of life. I might say a way of thinking.
Put it all together and we see that God has placed this angelic creature here with a mechanism which will confuse our perceptions, so that the way we might try to locate the Tree of life will not actually locate it. In other words, we cannot access the Tree of Life through our way of perceiving…through the knowledge of good and evil. Trying to access the Tree of Life through our knowledge of good and evil is a bit like trying to know love through quantum physics.
There is a way to get to the tree. Humans knowing good stuff and bad stuff is not that way.
Not only did we leave the Garden, but the way we perceived reality in the Garden left us. It had to.
So how do we access the Tree?
The second verse listed above is the answer to this question.
Jesus tells us, “repent, for the Kingdomof Heaven is near”.
Because we have tried to access the Tree of Life through the Knowledge of Good and Evil we read that verse like this…
“Straighten up, God is coming soon”
But the word “REPENT” is not at all what we think. This word is all about perceptions. Specifically it is about changing our mode of perceptions. Sound familiar? The word repent means “think differently”. Not just different. Differently. Change the way you take in the world around you. Becuase the Kingdom of God, the reality of His Spirit, the Source of Life…is NEAR.
You cannot access it by doing good, and avoiding bad, you must change the frequency on which you are receiving. Apparently I will have to write more about this in the days ahead…for now, begin to think differently. Could the Tree be near right now, but hidden from your eyes?
What are you looking for?