And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die.’(Gen. 2:15-16)
The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. (Acts 5:30)
On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kind of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:2b)
Today’s reflection is about three trees. The first tree is in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve did the one thing God asked them not to do. They picked the forbidden fruit, which then started all the blaming, scapegoating, name-calling, and hiding that has marked all of the human existence ever since.
In Jerusalem, at a place called Golgotha, is where we find the second tree. As Christians, we believe that Jesus gave His life on the cross to forgive all the brokenness from the legacy of Eden, to restore our relationship with God, and to redeem us from the bondage of sin.
We find the third tree is in our future when the heavenly city of Jerusalem comes down to earth, and therein will be a garden that contains the tree of life for the healing of the nations.
We all have a choice about which tree or trees we want to define and guide our life. As we look at our nation right now, are not there too many signs and examples that the blaming, shaming, hiding, and brokenness that our first parents started is all too prevalent and pervasive?
If we want to live by the second tree, we must accept both the comfort and the challenge of the cross. The comfort is that Jesus has reconciled us to God. The challenge is that He calls us to be “ambassadors of reconciliation” in the world. If we accept the comfort of the cross while refusing to accept the challenge, we are a walking contradiction, and our faith doesn’t have the integrity that Jesus expects.
Although the vision of the tree for the healing of the nations is in our future at the final consummation of heaven and earth, Jesus wants us to spread seeds of healing right now. He desires to heal between heaven and earth, between God and us, between and within nations, and between the races and genders and parties.
Which tree or trees are going to most influence how we talk to and about each other and how we treat each other? If we choose to destroy, if we spread suspicion, if we tear down our democratic systems, if we resort to name calling and shaming, if we indulge in conspiracy theories, if we foment anger, the pain of Eden will be our destiny.
If we choose to live under the glorious shadow of the cross, we will dance with joy that we have been reconciled to God, and we will embrace Jesus’ call to be reconcilers and peacemakers.
If we choose to live with the hope of the third tree, then we will be committed to spreading seeds of healing during our time on this earth as we prepare to meet our Lord someday face-to-face.
- Which tree or trees will most define who you are and what you do?
- Are you living with both the comfort and the challenge of the cross? Are there any changes you need to make for the integrity of your own faith?
- What could Jesus be calling you to do for healing in this nation, in your own community, or in your own family?