So, what if the two trees God planted in Eden in Genesis are the vital key that unlocks why we humans exist and what life for us is all about?
I hope they are, because evolution speaks nothing to me about why we humans exist and what life for us is all about. It theorizes about how we became human, and why we turned out the way we did, both physically and mentally, but offers nothing at all as to what our purpose is, other than believing we evolved.
But, so what if we evolved? Who cares, when we’re faced with world issues we cannot solve, and we could even be facing our extinction from a combination of disease, climate change and devastating worldwide wars over dwindling resources?
What if, though, all these issues we cannot solve can be traced back to those two trees, because of what those two trees pictured? And I say “pictured,” because I have no way of proving if the two trees were real or an allegory. Either way, though, is there something about those two trees that gives us a starting point for figuring out what life is all about and why we’re in the mess we’re in now?
Well, for a start, two trees tell me that life comes down to two choices. And through raw experience we discover that too, because we have thousands of years of human history to look back on to see what our choices have done to us – and how they’re playing out in our own lives right now too.
I know from personal experience, for instance, that if I choose to do only what pleases me, and the driving force in my life is my rights, expectations and feelings, I become arrogant, demanding, angry, frustrated, critical, depressed and a pain and bore to live with. And when an entire culture is based on self and feeding one’s own appetites, feelings and self-image, we end up with what we’ve got now, a world so consumed with consuming that we don’t even care if we litter and destroy the planet, the only home we’ve got.
We know from raw experience, then, that a self-centred life is a destructive one. But experience isn’t enough to change us, is it? We know, for instance, that the fashion industry is highly destructive, from how clothes are made, to the massive waste and the huge ugly rotting piles of clothing caused by overproduction by factories for profit and over consumption by individuals for self-image. But we don’t have the power within ourselves to stop it.
On the one hand, then, we’ve been conned into thinking the lifestyle we’ve created is good, but when (at last) we realize we’ve been conned it then hits us that we’re stuck in a destructive pattern we cannot break, or if we do try to break it then millions of poor people lose their jobs.
If we’d taken the two trees seriously, though, we could have realized this would happen, because the first tree was a warning about what putting self first would do, and the second tree pictured the power to prevent putting self first. In Bible terms the first tree pictured the “deceitfulness of sin,” describing how easily we are conned into putting self first, and the second tree pictures trust in God, as the only power that can help us resist putting self first.
And there you have it, the cause of all our problems, and the solution. So now we have a starting point for figuring out what life is all about and why we’re in the mess we’re in now. It starts with recognizing we’re faced with the same two choices that Adam and Eve were faced with. And admitting from our own experience – and the culture we’re presently living in – how easily we can be conned into a lifestyle of putting self first, which in turn has caused huge damage to our planet home, to our personal well being, and to millions of helpless people in impossible situations. Which then hopefully leads us to humbly admitting we need help in breaking our addiction to self from the only source that can help us.
Those two trees have decided how life would turn out through the centuries for whole empires, nations and individuals. And for me too, because I can look back on my life and see with embarrassing clarity how easily I’ve been conned, but how wonderfully I’ve been rescued too. And that tells me what my purpose in life is, to trust in the God who created me to break my addiction to self so that the restoration of the planet home he gave us can begin in earnest, in preparation and practice for whatever else he has in mind for us for eternity.