And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV)
The source of life and fruitfulness is God.
Choosing to exist without the source leads to many complications that ultimately result in anything but having life. This choice, however, is one we are currently wired to be inclined towards. Someone suggested that we can do it by ourselves. Something left the impression that we didn’t need the source, we could be our own source. We can make it on our own. We don’t need no one and nothing telling us what we have to do and who we have to be.
In some shape or form, human history has been the expression of efforts to live the self life. Either looking to be totally devoid of any reference to a source of being as typified many movements since the so-called Enlightenment period, or to merely use such notions to justify the quest for the pursuit of pleasing self. History has been expressing that and showing the consequences of such a pursuit and it has not been glorious.
You don’t even need a history lesson to see how pervasive and influential the pursuit of the self life is. You experience it in some way every day. Just in the little thoughts that cross your mind hinting at just how important you are. Nudging in a little way at how, really, you are the center of the universe and all of life really revolves around you. You can do whatever you want, it’s your life. Or how oppressive it is for anyone to tell you what to do, you need to break free to do your own thing.
Here in England, consumer culture is the norm and it’s based on that appeal to the self life. You can have it, you should have it, you deserve it, so go get it. Anything that prevents that should be removed because it’s unfair that you shouldn’t have the best things in life.
What’s wrong with that?
Such independent, self-centred thinking detaches us from the source of life and leads down a path to destruction. Not blatantly at first, but as it becomes more apparent that the pursuit of the self life is not fulfilling, but rather leaves the yawning yearning even greater than before, so it’s futility leads to despair that’s often either a state that people leave themselves resigned to as though that’s all there is to life, or spurs an even greater effort to grasp for anything they think can fill that void.
The bad fruit of the self life is incredibly addictive. Just when you think you can yield everything to return to the source of life, there can be that little nudge to get you back to your selfish ways. Even if you get that realisation of the pointless nature of that fruit, it gets incredibly hard to get off the stuff.
Thank God for the good news of the good fruit.
God did not leave us, even when we chose to leave Him. His pursuit of us in the course of history has been remarkably relentless. Episode after episode highlights His amazing love and mercy towards us. His offer to us is to counteract the effects of that bad fruit with the good fruit that derives from faith in Him, acceptance and recognition of what He has done through the death of His Son on the cross that now means beholding the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world gives us access to life once more. Reattach ourselves to the source and allow His life to be our life as He lives in us.
Constant reference to that source makes all the difference. That source gives us all we need to live and encourages us to actively build on those qualities of life we have been blessed with by connecting ourselves to Him. The more we do that, the more we are equipped to counteract the bad fruit and that’s good news.
That counteracting has implications far greater than just going beyond the self life, as we will discover.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden