Tree of Life

**I am honoured to be part of a blog tour that is celebrating the release of John Mark Comer’s first book, Loveology.  I was sent an advanced copy of the book to read and review, however the following, my thoughts and opinions on this chapter, are entirely my own.  

Terrence Malick is an incredible film maker who creates the most visually stunning films I have ever seen.  One of his movies starts with this interesting quote.

“There are two ways through life; the way of nature and the way of grace.  We have to choose which one we’ll follow.”

Ironically this movie bears the same title as one of the chapters in John Mark Comer’s book, Loveology.  It’s called Tree of Life.

I think Terrence Malick is correct in one sense.  There are two ways through life and we do have to choose which way we’ll follow.  So it is in Comer’s chapter, Tree of Life.  There are two ways to operate in this world in regards to sin and our sexuality; the way of nature and the way of Jesus.

“People are asking, ‘How close can I get to sin without it being sin?” Comer states in the intro to this chapter and I think he’s dead on.  Whether we’re single, dating or married we find ourselves asking the wrong questions.  The question, he goes on to describe, with regards to sex, should not be how far is too far or how close can I get without sinning, the question should be how can I be holy.  That’s a big difference.

I love the analogy of Samson that he uses.  Remember when he tore the lion apart with his bare hands?  And then remember how he later finds a swarm of bees making delicious honey in a hive in the lion’s carcass?  The most natural and organic honey one could possibly find, to be sure!  Who knew Samson was a hippy way before being a hippy was trendy!  What I’d forgotten in this story is an important piece to the puzzle but Comer fleshes it out.    Samson is a Nazirite and as such was never ever ever allowed to touch a dead body.  Like, ever.  So what does he do when he sees this beautiful honey inside the carcass of the lion?  Well, as Comer states, “His toes are right on the line,” in terms of what he should and should not be doing.  He carefully scoops the honey out of the carcass being careful to avoid touching the animal.

If this is the pattern of Samson’s life, that he’s always nudging against that line, teetering on the trapeze unsure of which way he may fall, then why are we so surprised when he falls into Delilah’s trap later?  I love this question.  And the answer?  “…there were patterns in his life that set him up for disaster,”  states Comer and he is so, so right.

He quotes Leviticus  which says, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”  And so should be our aim.  Our motivation.  Our goal.

So different from, “How far can we go?” isn’t it?

Since my three boys were little we’ve taught them that every girl they interact with, whether at preschool or at the park or in our home, must be treated as a sister.  Now, having 3 boys they didn’t really even know exactly how you treat a sister but we enforced the rules early on.  All girls are to be treated gently and with respect.  You mush show them kindness and patience.  You must stand up for them and with them, you must never harm them.  You goal is to love them as though they were family.

Now that they’ve entered the teenage years we speak exactly the same way and the language is so normal to them.  Treating a girl as your sister isn’t weird or grounds for some sort of reality tv show.  It’s just the way we are.

I love that John Mark elaborates on that in this chapter.  He asks the questions, “Would you be happy if somebody treated your sibling that way?” and he hits it home with a story from his father stating the same and adding, “If you break up [with your girlfriend], and one day in the future you meet her husband, you should be able to look him in the eye and shake his hand without a twinge of guilt.  And he should be able to say to you, ‘Thank you for taking such great care of my Emily.”

Wow.  Talk about raising the standard.

I love that these points are voiced so strongly and with such conviction.  I love that there’s no room for silly questions or dangerous flirting with temptation.  His point is so simple really and yet not the one being followed near enough.   Be holy as God is holy.  As a christian, why would we want to live any other way?

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