Have you ever considered the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? When confronted by the serpent, Eve said they were allowed to eat from every tree except this one or they would die. Satan replied, saying
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”Genesis 3:4-5
What did Adam and Eve know before they ate from the tree? What is it like in a world where humanity doesn’t have knowledge of good and evil?
As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that God intended for us to know only good through a love-filled relationship with him. We were never intended to know evil. With this knowledge came an interesting twist of relating to one another.
Recall the discussion from yesterday about the center. When we are cut off from the center, we are cut off from true life, the full life God intended. We make up for it by external behaviors; we critically assess all of life – people, things, behaviors, accomplishments – in terms of good and evil. “How well does this serve me?” becomes the main focus.
In his book, Repenting of Religion, Gregory Boyd says it this way:
When we live this way, we are living from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The act of invading the center is the act of assailing God as the only rightful judge of the world…to live as the center is to live as a judge. Instead of getting fullness of life from the love that God is we attempt to get life from being wise, knowing good and evil. We live in judgment rather than love.Gregory A. Boyd, Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God
The last seven words of that quote are mind-blowing to me. I have struggled with judgment my entire life. Always feeling it is my responsibility to know right from wrong, good from evil, I learned to constantly judge everything I encounter according to my internal standards. Rather than living from a place of radical, overwhelming love, I live in judgment.
How about you? Do you feel responsible to know good and evil? Is it difficult to leave those determinations to God and rest in his love not only for you, but for all humanity?
A couple of years ago, I visited a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. As she shared about her family and what her children were doing, she expressed concern for her daughter. This young woman had wandered into a lifestyle my friend did not approve of – it was evil. At one point, I asked her what she thinks would happen if she radically, unconditionally loved her daughter. She paused, shook her head a little and said, “Well, I don’t want her to think I approve of her lifestyle.” Choosing judgment over love created a canyon she will never cross as long as she chooses to relate to her daughter through the lens of judgment.
I do not fault her for this. It’s an easy place to find oneself; a place I am too familiar with. But I don’t like it. The cry of my heart is, “Forgive me, Lord, for I am a sinner.”