Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
What if I told you there’s ONE simple step you can take that would change EVERYTHING else in your life? I know, you probably would think I’m either crazy or getting ready to launch an infomercial.
But stay with me for a few minutes…
For many years, I’ve known that just about everything we need to know about God, people, or life can be gleaned from the first few chapters of Genesis. But I’ve recently come across a life-changing principle I had previously overlooked there.
Before I share this incredible principle from Genesis, let me point out an indisputable fact of life: Whatever you focus on will grow.
With this principle as a backdrop, we can see that it’s no accident God placed the Tree of Life in the very MIDDLE of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). This tree foreshadowed Jesus Himself, the life-giving one. To study this further, go to the Gospel of John and look at the numerous “life” references about Jesus: water of life, bread of life, resurrection and the life, etc.
And notice this: No matter how many interests and responsibilities you may have, there can be only one MIDDLE in your life. Everything else must take its place in relationship to that inner core of your being. And while Adam and Eve’s focus was on the tree God had placed on center stage, everything else was wonderful in their paradise.
As many Bible teachers have noted, when the serpent entered the picture in Genesis 3, he immediately called into question God’s love and truthfulness. But I had never noticed something else the serpent did: He succeeded in shifting Eve’s focus!
We see this in Genesis 3:3, when Eve tells the serpent, “God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Do you see how profound this shift is? Eve is now focusing on an entirely different tree in the MIDDLE of her world—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It seems from Genesis 2:9 that this second tree was very near the Tree of Life, so Eve wasn’t totally wrong in her statement. Yet the consequences of her shifted focus were catastrophic, not just for her and Adam, but ultimately for the entire human race.
Why does it matter which “tree” we focus on? Entire books have been written on this, but here’s the answer in a nutshell: The Tree of Life represents dependence on the Lord as our source, while the other tree represents reliance on our own senses to navigate life and determine right and wrong (e.g., see Proverbs 3:5-8).
So let’s get practical…
What is in the MIDDLE and CENTER of your world right now? I meet many people who are centered on the problems they’re facing in their health, finances, marriages, children, careers, emotions, or some other area of their lives. I’m sure we’ve all had that kind of focus at one time or another. But as we see from Eve’s tragic mistake, the things we put in the MIDDLE of our world will inevitably grow until they consume us.
Instead of allowing problems or people to become our focal point, the Bible repeatedly tells us we need to go back to putting Jesus (the Tree of Life) in the CENTER of our personal world. When that happens, we are promised “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3). And we can “cease striving” (Psalm 46:10 NASB), because He is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
But perhaps you are wondering…
What about the problems…the serpent…and the toxic tree that still inhabit parts of your personal paradise? Great question!
When Jesus is once again in the CENTER of your world, He begins the process of making “ALL things new” (Revelation 21:5). When your focus is no longer on your problems, the devil, or other people, you’ll be amazed by the new level of paradise you can experience.
Yes, everything begins to change when that one thing changes. And even before your outward circumstances have been transformed to any great degree, your new perspective will provide peace and hope you haven’t experienced in a long, long time.