After writing on Tuesday morning about the Set Free Summit taking place in North Carolina, I got to scrolling through old posts here and discovered one from six years ago which has never re-run.
If you know what the conference is about, you’ll read what follows through that lens, which is what I believe I had in mind when I wrote it. The idea that right now, thanks to the same wonderful technology which is allowing people all over the world to read my words, an entire generation is captivated by the empty yet addictive appeal of the latest iteration of the Temptation Tree.
Or maybe there are several…
It was a simple test. Other than this, you can do anything you want to, just don’t touch that tree over there. Yeah, that one.
Adam and Eve lived in less complex times. It was a good time to be alive if you were bad at remembering peoples’ names. Or not so good at history. And the only moral law they had was “The One Commandments.” Thou shalt not touch the fruit of the tree in the middle.
You know the tree. The one that looks so inviting. The one thing you can’t have. The big fluffy tree that’s like a giant “Wet Paint” sign that’s just begging you to touch your finger to it. Except they didn’t have paint back then.
Anyway, you know how that story ended.
I believe that throughout history there has always been a tree in the middle of the garden. It’s there in the garden of our world. In the garden of our society. In the garden of our nation. In the garden of our community. In the garden of our families. In the garden of our hearts.
There’s always a tree.
The warning not to touch its fruit is given to some by direct command, though others believe that the idea of not tasting of its bounty is written on the hearts of people; they simply know.
Some people say that everyone knows this, some people think people do need to be commanded, to have it spelled out for them; while others spend long hours drinking hot beverages wondering what then of the people who haven’t heard of the command.
In some cases, there is always one large tree to confront. In other cases there are several trees which must be avoided. Some reach a point where they simply lose interest in the forbidden fruit, it no longer tempts them, only to find themselves looking squarely at another tree, which holds a similar prohibition.
“Why, when I have lived my whole life never having been tempted to touch the tree in the middle of the garden, do I find myself now, at this stage of life, looking squarely at another tree in another part of the garden which is so very captivating, but apparently so equally off limits?”
Many, therefore, succumb.
Meanwhile others say there are no trees that are verboten. The time of such restrictions has passed, and one is free to enjoy all the fruit of all the trees. They entice others to eat, and the penalty for such as trespass doesn’t seem to befall these, though the eating of the fruit does leave a kind of stomach ache that lasts for a long, long, long, time.
At the other extreme are those who manage to transcend all of the temptations and all of the trees. These people enjoy a kind of regret-free, stomach-ache free existence. They are above such weaknesses. They don’t eat the fruit. They don’t touch the tree. They stay away from all the trees in all the gardens that might be simply wrong to taste, touch or even look back on.
They are however, rather quick to condemn those who who do succumb. “We warned them;” they say. “We put up signs that pointed people to the other trees; the safe, practical trees; the open spaces free of vegetation.”
They do this, not realizing, that their response is their tree.
Their careful analysis of the condition of gardens inhabited by weak people who do in fact stumble, who do in fact fail; their commentary on the nature of human weakness; their lack of compassion for those who have been unable to resist the appeal of the tree and its fruit… somehow… in some way… that became their tree.
They have gazed at it. They have touched its trunk, its branches and its leaves. They have tasted its fruit.
They are really no different.
For all have missed it; coming up short in understanding of the true nature of the creator and his expectations.
They forgot to look at the tree they were standing next to all along.