This afternoon I took three of my grandchildren “to the tree.” They love it there. Our street has two islands which separate the two lanes of our road. In the middle of each island, there are trees and bushes which are quite mature. Some of the trees are conifers and appear to be some kind of cedar. There are huge, low hanging branches just right for climbing.
It’s been a hot day and the kids have been inside all day and so have I. It’s time for a break. So, I offered to take the kids “to the tree!”
Once there, Isabel, my granddaughter scurries up to her favorite branch; while David, my oldest grandson, occupies himself with a frayed rope dangling from a higher tree branch. My younger grandson, Jonathan, is playing on shorter rope which used to be a swing.
Up till now, the kids have enjoyed their parents being away, attending to other responsibilities. They remained out of sight and quiet, being mesmerized by the television and other electronic devices in the cool, comfortable environment of our home.
Isabel “adores” the tree. Ignoring the heat, she scurries up to her favorite branch. David gets quickly bored and wants to go home, complaining about the heat. Planting the idea in his younger brothers had is easy. “Can we go home now Pop–Pop?” Since we’d only been there for less than 10 minutes, I declined the offer and told them to enjoy the outside and climbing on the tree. The arguments and suggestions which ensued did not win me over.
After about two minutes, Jonathan, the younger grandson, walks up to my wheelchair and places his hand on my arm. “Are you hot Pop–Pop?”
“No, Jonathan, I am fine,” I replied.
“Well, you know you shouldn’t get overheated. It’s not good for you; I think you’re too hot and we had better go inside.”
“Nice try Jonathan. We’re going to stay a little longer.” While I appreciated his concern, I wasn’t convinced that it was genuine! (Nevertheless, we did come home in a few minutes.)
This incident reminded me of a quote I had read while working on a Sunday school lesson: “every day in a thousand ways I make myself the center of the universe.”
It’s true; isn’t it? We all maneuver to gain an advantage. Everyone, in one way or another, ultimately looks out for their own best interests, even though we may not be aware of it. We frequently deceive ourselves into thinking we have better motives than we actually do. We think as if the whole universe revolves around us.
Left to ourselves, we would continue in our self-deception and blindness. God, however, loves us too much to leave us misinformed. He has spoken and given us a written record meant to both reveal our self-centeredness and remedy our condition.
In the Bible, God has graciously revealed crucial facts which we desperately need to know:
Shocker: I am not the center of the universe. (And neither are you.)
Shocker: There is a God who has clearly revealed himself in the Bible; he cares far more about obedience, justice, righteousness, and love that I could ever imagine.
Shocker: God has clearly disclosed essential truths which impact our relationship to him:
- Self-centeredness is a huge and personal affront to God. I have sinned.
- God’s sense of justice demands satisfaction. I am guilty.
- I deserve to be punished for offending God. I am doomed.
- God loves people far more than we deserve. We are in a desperate condition. I am loved.
- God promised and provided for our deliverance by sending his Son, Jesus Christ to restore our relationship by taking the punishment which we deserve. He did this by experiencing a cruel death on a cross. I can be delivered.
- Jesus offers forgiveness to everyone, but only grants it to those who are trusting in him alone for forgiveness. Jesus is my only hope, and I trust in him.
- God restores our relationship and renews me so that I have a growing desire to please him more than I desire to please myself. I want to obey and please my God and Savior.
- God reveals many more things in his word, the Bible, which I wish to understand and put into practice. I want to know God better.
You might be thinking, “That’s a pretty big jump from a little boy’s cute comments to cosmic concepts or unseen realities.” And I would agree, “It is.” But this just shows how much we need God’s truth. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, sampled the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it seemed like a small thing to them. But by it, their first act of disobedience plunged future generations into persistent rebellion and blindness. Their only hope was for their Creator to become their Savior. God did this through Jesus Christ.
“… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Did you notice my inconsistency as I went through the above bullet points? Sometimes I wrote in the plural, and sometimes the singular. The initial statements were plural and apply to everyone. While the singular statements reflect my personal responses and affirmation. Thus, the “we” and “I” vacillation. My point is that these universal truths must be personally grasped and acted upon. Or to put it another way, I have and I hope you have or will too.
(If you would like biblical verification for any of the above statements, please let me know. I will be happy to provide them.)