A friend who is not yet a Christian but who is joyfully seeking after God tells me of budding faith and of happy anticipation in the spiritual journey. Can I say anything to encourage?”
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The Bible teaches that God is our heavenly Father who made us every one, hopefully for fellowship with himself. Unfortunately, from Adam on, all us humans have chosen to go our own way at some point and to disregard the relationship for which God made us. That is the meaning of the wonderful story of the two trees in the original garden paradise (Gen. 3). I understand that story to relate literal history but it is also symbolic. However we understand that, the most important thing is the story’s message which is absolutely true.
The Tree of Life represented fellowship with God, and to “eat” from it meant to enjoy the true life which comes from living in fellowship with our Maker. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in Hebrew idiom, represented the experiential knowledge which comes from making autonomous moral decisions without regard to what God has said on the subject involved. To say it more to the point, it represented human beings deciding for themselves what is “good” and “bad” instead of taking God’s word on the matter. Adam and Eve ate from that tree and, as a result, lost their access to the Tree of Life.
Alienation was the result and it has been ever since. Adam and Eve were embarrassed by their guilt and tried to hide from God. When God confronted them, Adam broke fidelity with his wife and blamed Eve for their disobedience. This alienation continued with the story of Cain and Abel. Cain ignored God’s warning concerning the power of sin. He resented his brother Abel, whose faith made him pleasing to God, and murdered him. Finally, Cain suffered banishment from society. Unknown thousands of years later, humans apart from Christ still are estranged from the Creator, alienated from each other and torn apart within themselves.
The cosmos is bound up in all this as well, for God made us as part of his entire created order (Greek: kosmos). God placed us humans over the rest of creation — not to exploit and destroy it but as stewards to use it wisely and to help it fulfill his creative purposes (Gen. 1:26). That, too, became distorted by human sin. One aspect of the consequences of eating the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was expulsion from the garden paradise. Another aspect was a curse on productivity which no longer would be painless, either for human beings (Gen. 3:16) or regarding the fruit of the soul (Gen. 3:17-19). But God’s purpose was not defeated and he would not give up!