Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 3: 22, 23

 

You would think that perfection would be reward enough. That living in an environment that did not present any forms of threat or opposition would make us content and obedient to the one simple rule that God set out, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat.”(2:17) Yet, that was not the case, for as we know all too well, our initial ancestors did, in fact, eat that forbidden fruit, and the results that issued forth from that decision are with us to this day. This planet that we dwell upon is very different from that safe and secure place where Adam and Eve were created to live. They experienced the violence and the grief that humanity brings upon our world and that nature itself also now generates. Within a mere blink of the eye in terms of human history they experienced malice, anger, and murder. After the passage of only a few generations the world was so corrupt that God was almost ready to wipe it clean and start over.

 

But God did not do that. Instead He left a remnant of His creation and recommitted Himself to the restoration of all that He had formed as His great handiwork. In the chaos that disobedience had caused, the Lord promised that He would provide a redeemer for us. The Lord committed to destroy the evil that was loose upon the earth and to bring about an eternal renewal that would recreate the state of peace and close relationship with Him that was at the center of God’s original design. Even now, after Christ has come to live with us for the first time, we continue to struggle with obedience to God. He commands us to worship Him alone, and we seek out other gods. The Lord shows us the way into His now and forever presence, and we push His Christ aside as we follow our worldly paths. Christ instructs us in the ways of peace and of caring for others, and we respond with aggression and acts that oppress those who are in need. Sadly, we humans have not yet entered into the truth of God’s position as our only sovereign Lord and eternal Father.

 

However, it is in our stubbornness and disobedience that God’s remarkable character is most on display. He seems to possess a form of patience that defies all understanding, and He also demonstrates the depth of His love for each and every one of us in the fact that He continues to pursue us without regard for what we have done or how badly we may have treated and spoken of Him. Christ gave all so that we all could be redeemed from the living death and the eternal separation that our own actions have deemed our just reward. In Christ we are granted the capacity to understand the deep peace of the soul that only comes when we are dwelling in the presence of our Creator. With Christ we are brought back to an earthly shadow of that great garden of community that God devised to be our home on earth. Now, with Christ residing within, we eat from that tree that brings life, not with our mouths but from the depths of our souls, and the life that God grants to us is one where obedience to God’s will provides peace, joy, and contentment that lasts forever.

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It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

John 6: 63

 

Try as I may, no matter how much effort I put out, and without regard for my diligence in doing the work, I can’t breath one additional breath of life into my soul. Death is resident in my cellular makeup, and it pervades every corner of my existence; thus, the cold hand of mortality reaches out and chills me to the core. So it is not at all unreasonable to consider that my reaper-owned flesh can do absolutely nothing to move me from the realm of mortality into that of God’s eternity.

 

Still, God, my Creator and Eternal Father, has committed to bringing me close to His side and to keeping me there forever. In my experience, God is always good to His word; so, there must be a bridge from the short lived existence into which I was born and to which we are all condemned and the unending, immutable, and perpetual aliveness that the Lord promises.

 

The connection is made in and through Jesus, the Christ, for He brings life to the soul and assures us of the unending nature of our existence in the loving presence of God. As wondrous as is this prospect, there is much more. The Lord does not leave us waiting and wondering about a distant future, and He wants us to live a life that is infused with the blessing of His gracious love and perfect wisdom. Christ gives us His Spirit to bring true life to our hearts, minds, and souls. For me this reality brings freedom; since, the Spirit does in me and for me what I am completely incapable of accomplishing myself, So, I am free to live everyday in the joyous certainty of eternity.