Why the tree, God?

The Covington News - - Religion -

In the be­gin­ning, God cre­ated the world. It was per­fect, noth­ing wrong with it. And then they ate that fruit from that tree of knowl­edge of good and evil and ru­ined ev­ery­thing. And now there is sin in the world. What a shame. If only they had re­sisted that temp­ta­tion. But, what was the tree do­ing there in the first place? Have you ever won­dered that? Have you ever asked, “Why the tree, God?”

You know God had a rea­son — a good one. Af­ter all, it was af­ter he had cre­ated that tree of knowl­edge of good and evil and af­ter he had given the com­mand not to eat of it, that God’s in­fal­li­ble word says that he looked at ev­ery­thing he had made, and it was very good. So, why the tree?

Well, when God made us, when he made hu­mankind, he didn’t just zap us into be­ing, he formed man like a pot­ter molds his clay; he built the wo­man like a skilled crafts­man ap­plies his spe­cific de­sign for a spe­cific pur­pose. We’re not just ran­dom mu­ta­tions of zapped muck. God formed each of us, as dif­fer­ent as we may be, with one pur­pose — to wor­ship him.

So why did God put the tree there in that first home for our first par­ents? It was an op­por­tu­nity for us to ful­fill our pur­pose — in a real way — not some man­u­fac­tured, au­to­mated, zapped way. Think about that. How would Adam and Eve have been able to do any­thing for God, un­less he asked them to do some­thing, or not do it as the case may be? How else would they have shown him thanks and praise? That tree of knowl­edge of good and evil was their al­tar, their church. Ev­ery time they walked past it and thought, “I don’t want to eat of that be­cause my awe­some God asked me not to,” they were wor­ship­ping.

So why the tree? Be­cause he loves us and wants to give us op­por­tu­ni­ties to wor­ship. He didn’t want us to burst with ap­pre­ci­a­tion — we needed an out­let. Of course, we don’t have ac­cess to that tree any­more — but he has given us op­por­tu­ni­ties to wor­ship, hasn’t he? “Do not give up meet­ing to­gether,” he tells us. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” he says. “Of­fer your bod­ies as liv­ing sac­ri­fices.” “Bring the whole tithe into my store­house,” he says. He’s given us all sorts of op­por­tu­ni­ties to wor­ship him, and not just on Sun­day morn­ings — but with our whole lives — putting him first in it all.

But, of course, he knew we’d fail, just like he knew Adam and Eve would fail. So, why the tree? Well, the full ver­sion of this ser­mon (avail­able at www.abid­ing­grace.com) has all sorts of other rea­sons from the text, but re­ally it all boils down to this. Why the tree? Be­cause God loves us. And that shows it­self never so clearly as on that sec­ond tree. You might call it the tree of life — no not the one in the Gar­den of Eden. The one on that hill, just out­side Jerusalem, that wood po­si­tioned be­tween those two crim­i­nals, where Christ gave his life for our life. Why the tree? So that our fail­ures could be paid for by the blood of God’s own son. Why the tree? So that God’s love could shine through our dark­ness as he sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing to prove our worth in his eyes. Why the tree? As Paul says, “God demon­strates his own love for us in this: While we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us.” This is God’s word.

Pas­tor Jonathan Scharf Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church

Fresh bread

In John, chap­ter 6, we are told the story of Je­sus per­form­ing the mir­a­cle of feed­ing 5,000 peo­ple with only five small bar­ley loaves of bread and two small fish. Af­ter do­ing this, Je­sus said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hun­gry, and he who be­lieves in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Bread has been a sta­ple food and is re­ferred to as the “staff of life.” What bread is to our bod­ies phys­i­cally, Je­sus is to us spir­i­tu­ally. No­tice that: Je­sus is the true bread. In John 6:32, He said: “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Fa­ther who gives you the true bread from heaven (speak­ing of him­self).”

Je­sus is the liv­ing bread. In John 6:51, He said: “I am the liv­ing bread that came down from heaven. If any­one eats of this bread, he will live for­ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Je­sus is also the life-sus­tain­ing bread. In John 6:48-49, Je­sus said: “I am the bread of life. Your fore­fa­thers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.”

Je­sus is the bread from heaven. He said he was the true bread from heaven (verse 32); that He had come down from heaven (verses 33, 50, 51, 58); and, as the bread of life, he had come down from heaven to do the will of the Fa­ther. (verse 38)

One of the el­e­ments of the Lord’s Sup­per is un­leav­ened bread. Je­sus is the bread of life, and the bread rep­re­sents his flesh, his body, which was cru­ci­fied for the sins of all hu­man­ity on the cross.

It is not enough to know “about” Je­sus. We need to “know” Je­sus per­son­ally, and par­take of his fresh, liv­ing bread, by faith. Come to Christ and en­joy fresh bread that truly sat­is­fies, not only here on earth, but eter­nally. The next time you have bread with a meal, re­mem­ber Je­sus who is the true bread of life, and be thank­ful.

The Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford LifePointe Church of the Naza-

rene

Chris­tian life

Our her­itage is very im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing our fu­ture. Karl Marx once said that peo­ple with­out a her­itage are eas­ily led. He cer­tainly talked a lot of peo­ple out of their her­itage.

There was many years ago a sea cap­tain from Italy who sailed the coast of Africa. Cap­tain Stephen was walk­ing on the beach and dis­cov­ered a mis­sion­ary who had been beaten. He dis­cov­ered that the mis­sion­ary was Ital­ian and took him aboard his ship to try to help him. The mis­sion­ary knew he was dy­ing and asked to be brought on the deck. The cap­tain, think­ing that he would want to take one last look at the land that had been his, hon­ored his re­quest. The mis­sion­ary pointed in­stead across the At­lanta to­ward Amer­ica and said, “There is a land of peo­ple who need to be saved. Go and tell them about Je­sus.” Cap­tain Stephen passed this story to his son, and his son passed it his son, and his son passed it one to his son.

The boy whose very name means “Christ Bearer” did that very thing. This boy was Christo­pher Colum­bus. This story of Colum­bus is a good ex­am­ple of how im­por­tant our her­itage is.

Most of our church his­tory books have been writ­ten by while men and so have failed to in­clude the rich Chris­tian her­itage of black peo­ple.

When my peo­ple in Eng­land knew noth­ing of Je­sus, we find Chris­tian­ity alive and well in North­ern Africa. In fact, some 600 years be­fore Chris­tian­ity was in Eng­land, we find the most ex­ten­sive li­brary on Chris­tian­ity lo­cated in Alexan­dria, which was a cen­ter of Chris­tian the­ol­ogy and church gov­ern­ment. Saint Augustine was the Bishop of Hippo in Africa from 396-430 A.D. Saint Augustine was very ac­tive. His let­ters were pow­er­ful and went ev­ery­where. He wrote some 230 let­ters.

Is­lam, the re­li­gion of the Ara­bian peo­ple, over­ran North Africa and must of the Chris­tian her­itage was lost to our world.

When we see the pow­er­ful black preach­ers of to­day, such as T.D. Jacks, Carl­ton Pear­son and Myles Mon­roe, to name a few, we know this her­itage is still alive. God has a plan and a pur­pose for each of our lives. He says, whoso­ever will may come. He didn’t leave any of us out. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only be­got­ten son, that whoever be­lieves in him, should not per­ish but have ev­er­last­ing life.”

We read in Gala­tians 3:26-29, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Je­sus. For as many of you were bap­tized into Christ have put on Christ. There is nei­ther slave nor free, there is nei­ther male nor fe­male; for you are all one in Christ Je­sus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abra­ham’s seed, and heirs ac­cord­ing to the prom­ise.”

What a rich her­itage we can all have through God’s grace and our trust­ing in Je­sus Christ as our lord and sav­ior.

A life is a ten­able thing to waste. Give your life to Je­sus, find out what he wants you to do and do it. Dean Doyle West

Chris­tian Life School of The­ol­ogy

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