26 Feb The Two Trees
I wasn’t born in the church, but I’ve been here for a while. And when I jumped in, I was all in.
I wanted to love and serve God as much as my comprehension would allow. As I grew and developed I had more understanding of the Lord’s heart. But my own interpretation of what he wanted from me grew as well. I looked at my life and I saw sin, destruction, and areas where I frankly did not measure up to what was being relayed to me from scripture. I put my focus into looking for and correcting these things. This became the foundation of my faith because it was something I could control.
One of the places where I didn’t measure up was service. So I gave everything I could to serve God through my church, which they were happy to accept. I was still a baby Christian when I began mentoring others. This same pressure I felt to be “further along” in my faith spilled onto everyone I mentored. I replicated all my own inner judgment. All I could see is what they lacked, and all I could give were instructions on how they too could be “further along” or as we like to say, “more mature in their faith.” I was in a hurry with their progress, the same way I was in a hurry to improve myself.
My passion in my faith wasn’t so much being with God. Rather I was using God to show me where I could be better; where I could give more up, and where I could make my life more useful to him. I got to feel good or bad about myself based on my performance in this system, and I projected that on to others. Feeling good about myself for my own performance was addictive. It felt so good to be good enough! But this system that I built in my own mind, based on my own interpretations of scripture, was not life. Because it was still me who was building.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16
Me measuring was me eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. And, like Eve, I saw that this fruit was able to make me wise, and so I gave it out to others. This played out in the way I judged my worth based on my habits, thoughts, values, beliefs, and even daily emotions. This hyper-vigilance to be good enough, based on my own judgment, was not life! There was only one way to make it out of this system; to eat from the Tree of Life.
When my eyes opened to the system of judgment I had created, it was obvious that I had no idea how to eat from the Tree of Life. I have had to slowly strip away my old way bit by bit, and let real Love come and feed me.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39-40.
All I need to do is show people what is available to them in Jesus. Love is constantly showing me what is available to me. And one of those gifts is a life free from measuring; free from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If I measure, I don’t need my dad. Or rather, I decide when I need him and what for. I look at myself, decide what needs to change, and then invite him in to do the part I can’t, so that I can keep measuring some more. His involvement is merely a step in my “progress.” But to live is to be his child, not forcing myself to grow up, but letting myself grow up, not surprised or discouraged that I am still a child.
I see people differently now. I see myself differently now: Worthy. No matter what my behavior or thoughts are. I am worthy of Jesus because he came for the sick. He came for me. Doing away with my old system means that I don’t get to decide where I should be or if I’m good or bad. I get to be curious with my father, who is most compassionate. I can change my focus from using Jesus to change my life to actually getting to know him without judging myself. I can just be with him, and Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, can finally have his way.
Angela Nasegesege, (Leadership Team Member)