While talking about the concept of Leaving Eden — that the whole of human history follows our taking steps away from the goodness originally intended for us — Brandon talked about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
As we read in Adam and Eve’s story in Genesis 3, the fall of man came from eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was the only forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.
Consider Genesis 3:6:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.
The original lie that led to original sin was that having the knowledge of good and evil leads to wisdom. It was the attraction of the unknown that led to man’s fall. It was not believing that God had man’s best interests at heart, and perhaps was shielding man from something.
When that fruit was consumed, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, as the serpent promised, but instead of seeing endless beauty as they always had, they saw emptiness. They saw pain. They saw want. They saw need. They saw the works of the serpent, and placed themselves in the center of a cosmic rebellion by God’s former worship leader. They gave this depraved creature what he wanted most — access to hurt the Creator by destroying what He loves most: people.
Of course, we know the back of the book (and the middle of it): Jesus saved — an act that was the exclamation point on God’s statement of enduring love and desire to restore Eden. We’re still waiting for that restoration, but we see glimpses of it as God’s people live with unworldly love.
But something interesting Brandon Heath brought up in his interview was the reality that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is still available to us today.
In this Information Age, we have access to more news, ideas, stories, beliefs, art, music and opinions than ever before in human history. Brandon points to the Internet in particular as a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
The Internet is like the new apple in that it is the knowledge of good and evil. Everything is there, and I wonder sometimes if it’s really good for us and for me. I’m really examining that right now. I really want to take responsibility. If I’m being offered an apple, I don’t want to eat it anymore. That’s a personal thing that I’m questioning right now in my own practices in my life, but I want people to talk about it, rather than sitting in front of the television and asking it to tell us what our lives should be.
For me, that brings up a lot of memories. If you’ve read my blog entry from several years ago called “My Lifelong Love Affair with Fear,” you’ll see how I’ve struggled with too much knowledge. I’ve confused ignorance with innocence. I’ve leaned on my own understanding — my own education — to protect me in life, rather than trusting in the Lord. And the expense was that my innocence was battered and my outlook was grim.
I understand the biblical mandate to be aware of the times. I also understand that we are to be shrewd as serpents (interesting connection) and harmless as doves in life (Matthew 10:16). I understand that we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes. But I also understand the command to have childlike faith.
When in doubt, I’ve always favored information over innocence. But the Brandon Heath interview is really challenging me to reverse that. I understand the days are dark and the times are evil, but do we really need to know HOW dark and HOW evil? Do we really need to know the darkest things people do on the evening news, or the most demented thoughts people broadcast on the Internet? How much do we really need to know?
If I’m being offered an apple, I don’t want to take it anymore. I agree with Brandon. I’ve digested that fruit before, and it makes me want to vomit. It’s paralyzed me with fear. It’s distracted me. It’s caused me to have nightmares, to ignore what’s important, and to isolate. Sure, I know more about the state of our world (or do I?) — but was it really worth the change in perspective?
I’d say no. Maybe ignorance isn’t bliss — we’re not commanded to be ignorant — but innocence is bliss. Eden was bliss. And my mission on this earth is to make the world around me as much like Eden as I can, preparing people for the New Eden.
I don’t need the fruit anymore. I don’t want it. I’m not going to seek out fruit that spoils my appetite anymore. I will listen to the Word when it says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
That sounds like an invitation to ignorance, doesn’t it? Nope. It’s taking each day at a time, taking things as they come at you, fully trusting in the One who made you. It’s an invitation to innocence. And it’s never too late.