Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:6-11 ESV
This is a really familiar story for most people, even those who aren’t Christian (or Jewish), but this morning I had a thought I hadn’t really pondered before.
I’ve been trying to digest it and ask God what, if anything, He has for me in it. This is one I’ll probably need to chew on for a while, but I thought I’d go ahead and throw it out there.
The question, “Who told you that you were naked?” is an important question. “Did you eat some fruit from that tree I told you not to eat?”
The thing that struck me was that they had always been naked. Satan didn’t lie to them – it wasn’t untrue that they were naked, they just had never noticed before. They had been naked and not ashamed of it.
But now, they were painfully aware of their nakedness, felt ashamed and tried to cover it. The lie was that nakedness, in and of itself, was shameful.
The act of covering is a sure sign of shame. And it’s not the fruit of the tree of life. In their case they had sinned and truly had moved into a state of disconnection from God.
But, as followers of Jesus, who have moved from death to life, who are hidden in Him, who are called righteous, we should never have the shame that causes us to hide from God and others.
Yet, we often do.
The story of Genesis 3 is the story of humanity. It’s my story and it’s your story.
As ones who have been restored to relationship with God, we too, at times, find ourselves hiding in the bushes trying not to be found out. But why?
Who is tempting us to eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil?
We know we have an Enemy who is called the accuser of the brethren – he’s constantly telling you that you’re failure, a lost cause and pointing out your faults.
But, I’m afraid we do this to each other sometimes, too. There are people who are walking around carrying baskets of fruit from the tree of knowledge, wanting you to eat, and believe again that you’re actually naked and wretched before God.
Those who’ve been eating bad fruit want you to eat some, too.
She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
I can imagine God coming to look for me:
“Ashley, where are you?”
<leaves rustle> “Uh, I’m in here.”
“Why are you hiding? Who told you were in trouble? Who told you that I would disown you? Who told you that you are naked?”
“Well, first, ‘she’ said I’m not a good mom and that my house is a mess, and it’s my fault my kids are misbehaving, and I’m not spending enough time with you and I probably don’t really know you after all. And then…”
“So, you ate the fruit from her basket again?”
“Uh – huh.”
“I thought we had a good thing going. We were hanging out, I was teaching you things, you were growing and changing and maturing. You were letting me tell you who you are, and who I am and that was enough. We were tracking together. I know you mess up – I’m not blind – but we were working on it. Weren’t we working on it together? How did this happen?”
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:3
I find myself in the bushes sewing fig leaves more than I care to admit.
You know, the Pharisees were on every street corner handing out fruit, and Jesus had strong words for them. They placed heavy burdens and demands on the people and offered no help in carrying those burdens.
We have to be careful in making “helpful” suggestions, or offering criticism to others, and assuming we know their hearts. None of us is the Holy Spirit.
God is the only one who knows the heart, even our own. We think we do, but there are still corners left unseen and untouched. And when he’s ready to go into them, He will.
We should listen to input from our friends, but the final word belongs to God. We have to take everything to Him and ask if it’s true.
And, if it is true, we need to know what He wants to say about it and about us. We need to stay connected to Him and not allow another human to take His place.
Remember that you are covered in His righteousness, not your own. You are not naked and ashamed before Him, you just feel like you are, at times. Just as in Genesis, it is not shameful to be “naked,” before God. It is necessary.
This has been my journey for quite some time. The truth is that God is happy to be with me even when I’ve sinned. I am more important than whatever problems I am causing (thanks to John and Sungshim Loppnow for that new way of thinking).
My life needs to be laid bare before Him. There should be no shame in that.
If I remain close to, and open with, Him, I will grow and change, and my shortcomings will become cause for celebration of a love big enough to embrace me and cover me, not in spite of my failures, but because of them.