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AfterWords | To Be Christ-Like (February 19, 2023)

AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.

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A 3-Minute Read
by Keely Darnell

I have been sitting with a question that surfaced a few weeks ago during an imaginative prayer exercise. The question is: What would it look like to eat from the tree of life instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

The question harkens back to the imagery of the Garden of Eden, where two trees are planted in the middle of the garden: one brings life, the other death.

As I’ve sat with this question in prayer and taken it to my beloved spiritual director, another question surfaced (I have found that most of the spiritual journey is learning to ask and sit with questions): Could I be gorging on knowledge and missing Life?

Jordan spoke this week about the Transfiguration. Jesus takes Peter and John up to a mountain, Moses and Elijah show up, Jesus sparkles in glowing white, and Peter decides they should all just stay up there forever.

Jordan named what each character in the story symbolizes. Moses symbolizes the Law, Elijah the prophets, and Jesus, is, well, Jesus.

Jordan said that when Peter offered to build three altars, he was probably thinking he was elevating Jesus to the same level as the Law and the Prophets.

But God speaks and reminds them who Jesus is (God’s beloved Son) and tells them to listen to Him, and then Moses and Elijah disappear. Jordan said Moses and Elijah pass off their torches to the One who can finish and fulfill the work they started.

Am I willing to hear God’s invitation to listen to Jesus? Or am I too busy seeing how I can make Jesus as important as the Law?

Jordan quoting Brian Zahnd said: “We are not called to be biblical, we are called to be Christlike.”

Or, as one of my favorite theologians, Beth Felker Jones states, “Correct doctrine does not save us, Jesus saves us.”

These ideas have a similar theme to the question I’ve been sitting with over the past few weeks. Knowledge can never replace Jesus, our source of Life.

God wanted Adam and Eve to eat and get nourishment from the tree of life, not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What has been true since the beginning of time is still true today, and—much like Adam and Eve—we sometimes gravitate to the lesser tree.

May we learn to listen to, engage with, and follow Christ our risen Savior and source of Life, over and above all things.

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