What are the words that come to mind when you hear the word “Naked?” When I ask this question when I am teaching, I get the following word answers: “shame”, “ugly”, “sin”, “vulnerable”, “exposed”, “embarrassed”. Most of these are negative – fear shame, etc.
Have you ever noticed how you can read a verse and skip over it without paying much attention and then one day you take another look and a light comes on – connections are made and the Lord is teaching you something? Catch this verse – it contains within it one of the most important gifts God intended for humanity. (You can also to listen to my sermon Paradise Lost, Paradise Restored on this subject)
The man and his wife were both naked and felt no shame. Gen. 2:25
What about these descriptions: “childlike”, “accepted”, “spontaneous”, “free”, “without consciousness of self”, “transparent” or “without anything to hide”. Why don’t we think of these? The fact is the negative words outweigh the positive by about 10 to 1. Why is this so? It’s probably because to be naked means to be totally known, totally transparent, and totally vulnerable.
Nakedness is not common to our human experience. I don’t mean physical nakedness. I mean to be totally known and totally transparent. Do you know that we all crave to be totally known and totally vulnerable? It is a part of our human nature – to be truly known and truly understood. Sadly, at the same time it is one of our worst fears – being totally known. It is a paradox – the one thing we want the most and fear the most – at the same time. We yearn for this, but rarely risk the vulnerability it entails.
Why didn’t we say; “open”, “free”, “honest”, “simple”, “accepted”, “loved”? We don’t say these things because underneath our veneer of security most of us firmly believe that if we were open, vulnerable and fully known, we would be rejected. We feel this way because we have accumulated piles of failure and sin and the shame that results.
There is a word that captures the experience of being naked and unashamed? The word is innocence. Innocence is the first characteristic of the Kingdom of God. It is to be in relationship with the Father, fully known inside and out, and fully accepted. In this state, you experience innocence.
When you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, innocence was the first thing given back to you. Do you remember how clean you felt – you felt like a little kid again – like a baby. Where did this feeling of innocence go? I ask this question because for most of us this is a rare feeling. Why are we not experiencing this on a daily basis – what has gone wrong? What has come between us and our Father that we do not see ourselves as He sees us?
Interestingly enough, the rest of Genesis tells us exactly what went wrong and how God intends to fix it. Gen 3:6-9 is about how innocence was lost. Man, through disobedience, steps out of an intimate loving relationship with God and the first thing that is lost is innocence.
The Bible says the first thing that happens is, their “eyes are opened” and they feel shame. What the Bible means by the phrase “their eyes were opened” is that they became self conscious. This is the beginning of the loss of innocence – self focus.
Humanity’s response to sin has always been the same from that day forward – cover up, run and hide. We have a term for this behavior, which came into common usage in the Nixon Watergate scandal – we call it a “cover-up”. This kind of human response to failure has come to be expected. But what is interesting in this story is the Father’s response.
God goes looking for Adam and Eve in the garden and He calls out to them, “Where are you?” Why is He calling out? Is God so old that He can’t remember where He put them? “Gosh I thought I made two. Where could they be? I am sure I put them down here somewhere. Maybe they’re behind that bush. I am getting old, a few thousand years ago I could have remembered. But these little people are quick, not like the elephant. I can always find the elephant.”
He goes looking for them in the garden and He calls, “Where are you, Where are you?” What is He trying to do? He knows very well where they are. His call is communicating, “Please come back to me – please come back of your own initiative – I want you to come to me”. From this incident onward the rest of the Bible is the story of God through history calling out “Where are you?” He started calling out to us in the garden and He has been calling for us ever since.
What He is really saying is, “I want My children back, I want My people back, come home! Where are you?” Human history is all about this question and our answer to it. He is still asking it.
What we see here is the heart of the Father. He is looking for His lost children. The heart of the Father is to woo, call, and plead with them to come back. Is He calling so He can punish them? No, He is calling so He can restore their relationship with Him. His desire is to return them to that state of relationship that existed before they sinned. His desire is the same for us. He has never changed.
The tragedy of man’s sin is not really the sin, but what we choose to do with it. We run away from God, cover up and hide. God’s solution to your sin is not that you run away and hide but that you run to Him.
You see, your tragedy is not that you sin – but what you do with it. Cover up, run and hide. When you run and hide, you break relationship with God. You are now facing away from Him. He still loves you and you are still His child, but you are in hiding.
The irony is that He has already forgiven you 2000 years ago, but you have broken relationship with Him and now you are in shame. Satan loves this. The one thing Satan hates is people in relationship with the Father. Satan will work overtime to convince you that your sin is so serious that you cannot return. He will try to tell you that you have crossed some sort of line.
Every morning he will hold up before your eyes a list of all you have done wrong yesterday, including the things you only thought about doing. When you go to pray, he will politely remind you of the list. And so you begin to believe that you are not worthy to have a relationship with your Heavenly Father. After all, why would He want to be intimate with someone like you? So you stay away. You play the role of a Christian, but at a distance. Shame is always just a pause away so keep distracted, keep moving, and don’t stop!
1 John 1:9 gives us the solution: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What does “purify us” sound like? It sounds like, “He will restore innocence”. He will remove shame. SO COME!
So tell me your thoughts or ask me some questions about this material in the comment box below and I will answer right away!
You can also to listen to my sermon Paradise Lost, Paradise Restored on this subject.
Great sermon Mark!
Hi Kurt – Glad you liked it! There are more in the series which should be appearing on the blog site now. These messages come from my new book, “Is God Religious? If not, why are we?”
One of these days I hope our paths cross. Give my love to Marian and the boys!
You can order the print version of the book at http://www.lulu.com/shop/mark-cowper-smith/is-god-religious/paperback/product-21905032.html”
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=is+God+Religious+by+Mark+Cowpersmith