(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
6th July 2013
Most of us know the story of the Fall, when the first humans sinned against God in the Garden of Eden. As soon as they'd sinned, we read:
Don't we all?
Don't we all hide our true selves from each other?
And do we try to hide ourselves from God?
This idea of nakedness goes very deep in the human soul. It's been estimated (though I don't know who by, or if it's true) that, at some time in their life, 4 out of every 5 people will dream that they're naked in public. I read this on the internet (I can't remember the name of the site):
Dreaming that you are completely or partially naked is very common... Becoming mortified at the realization that you are naked in public reflects your vulnerability or feelings of shamefulness. You may be hiding something and afraid that others can see through you. Metaphorically, clothes are a means of concealment. By the type of clothes you wear, you can hide your identity or pretend to be someone else. If you're without clothes, everybody can see what you're really like. You're exposed and left without defences. Thus your naked dream may be telling you that you're trying to be something that you're really not, or that you're afraid of being ridiculed, disgraced or rejected. Such anxieties are elevated in situations where you're trying to impress others.
I'm no expert in psychology, but that rings true for me.
And when I read the last bit - fear of being ridiculed, disgraced or rejected - I thought, "Christians!" Many Christians can fear being judged by their church - the very place where they should feel most secure. How would you feel if your church knew about the worst things you'd said and done? How would they behave towards you? It's wonderful to be with Christians who know what you're really like and love you anyway, but many of us have had a very different experience of church.
Maybe this fear of being naked goes right back to the Garden of Eden, right back to the first time that people realised they'd sinned, and tried to cover themselves up to hide their true nature from God. (Maybe, too, many people's fear of snakes goes back to our ancestors' encounter with the serpent in the same story). Maybe we're afraid, at a very deep level, to show anyone who we truly are, because we're ashamed before God of who we truly are.
Before they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve were innocent, in the best meaning of that word. They were comfortable with each other and with God, and felt no need to conceal anything. As soon as they sinned, they covered themselves up.
They day comes to us when we realise that we've sinned against the Lord God, when we realise that our sin is terrible, and we deserve His anger. Our instinct can be to run and hide. Adam and Eve hid behind a tree. To hide from God, we might stop going to church, or stop reading our Bibles, or find reasons why we're too busy to pray. We might hide by turning on the radio, or the TV, or the computer, so there's no silence, and less risk of hearing God.
But God calls to us. He doesn't shout. He doesn't send down a thunderbolt. He calls, "Where are you?"
Can you hear God calling out to you, "Where are you?" Whatever you've done, whatever has been done to you, God wants you to step out from behind the bush and talk to him.
It's not as if God didn't know where Adam and Eve were! He sees everything:
But God wants us to respond! He wants you and me to step out from wherever we're hiding, and stand before Him.
Whether we like it or not, we all stand naked before God. He sees exactly what we're like. And yet we still pray as if we were holier than we are. We still try to persuade God that we're more deserving of His grace. And that's a strange thing, because grace is, by definition, free. God wants us to pray honestly, tell Him how we rally feel, what we really think, and what we really want. There's no point pretending to God that we feel what we think we ought to feel, think what we're supposed to think, want what we should want. No matter how flawed we are, we can only really pray as who we are and look to God to make us what we can become.
This seems a strange question. Adam could have replied that no-one needed to tell him he was naked - it was obvious. I think the question really means "Who told you that being naked was a bad thing?", "Who told you that you had no right to stand before me without covering yourself up?". Adam had been confidently naked before God when he'd had a clear conscience.
When we first realise that we're naked before God, our first reaction can be to blame someone else. Adam blamed his wife. Eve blamed the snake. But to deal with our sin, we must be honest before God. No matter how much I'm tempted, no matter what sin has been perpetrated against me, I'm still responsible for my own actions. We can't repent before we admit what we've done, and that what we've done was our fault.
In verses 14-19, because of their sin, God cursed the serpent, then Eve, then Adam, in the same order as they'd sinned against him.
In verse 20:
The first human ever to sin - Eve - was to be the mother f us all. We're ALL sinners, as our mother was. I think maybe Adam realised that, and so Eve is a sad name as well as a happy one. In Adam and Eve, we've all taken some of the forbidden fruit and eaten it.
And then, in verse 21, we read that God didn't order Adam and Eve to take their clothes off. Instead, he made coats for them:
When we stand naked before God - and we're naked before Him, whether or not we've sewn together some fig leaves - God clothes us! God doesn't want us to be ashamed before Him.
I'm sure the animal skin garments were much better than the fig leaves. And if we will come out from behind our tree, and stand before God, he will cloth us in beautiful garments: