They were naked and were not ashamed
Genesis chapter 2 is a very common wedding text. And then at the rehearsal the minister has to coach a blushing bridesmaid through the final verse of the reading. Gulping, they exclaim, “Is this really in the Bible?!”
“They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)
It just goes to show how very fallen we are. What was so natural and liberating in the garden feels too embarrassing to even name in church.
It sounds so foreign – nakedness with no shame. For most people, being naked before others is the stuff of nightmares. We hate the idea of being so exposed. We want to cover up. And even if we’re all by ourselves we feel our nakedness. It’s rare to be naked and not be very aware that we’re naked.
Not so for Adam and Eve. While they were in innocence they didn’t even know they were naked. “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” asks the Lord in chapter 3 after they’ve sinned. Before they sinned they were just themselves. They had no concept of lacking anything. What is “naked” when clothes don’t exist? What is “exposed” when you’ve got nothing to hide?
But then, once sin enters in, their very atmosphere is hiding. Immediately they hide from one another and the Lord. Immediately they sew together coverings. That’s what clothes are – portable hiding places. And they sew them out of fig leaves. Fig leaves! Let’s hope they had a good moisturizer!
It’s ridiculous. But it’s so recognizable.
There’s a story that Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a telegram to 12 London gentlemen as a joke. The telegram read “Flee, all is revealed.” Immediately 6 of them left the country.
We are deeply afraid of exposure. This fear is driven by shame and since Adam’s sin, it’s been the drum-beat of fallen humanity. Sin → Shame → Fear → Hiding. We run around planet earth hiding ourselves from God and each other. Both physically and emotionally we work hard at concealing our ugliness and adorning our best features.
We’re afraid of our defences being stripped away. We fear to bare our souls. We may shrink back in ‘shyness’, or we may step forwards under the cover of humour, intelligence, looks, good manners, etc. But being naked and unashamed?
Could we ever step out of our hiding places and find freedom from these fear-bound, shame-driven urges? Could we ever be seen by the LORD and others and know complete rest and acceptance?
Well in Genesis 3, the LORD does something shocking. He clearly doesn’t think the fig leaves are adequate coverings. So He makes His own. From skins (v20). Animals had to die. Blood had to be shed. And humanity is clothed in the sacrifice of another.
All this was modelling a deeper truth. The Apostle Paul speaks of Christians having clothed themselves with Christ (e.g. Galatians 3:27). Rather than hide in morality, religious observance, busyness, comfort, pleasure-seeking, achievement, fame, worthy causes, etc, etc, – the Christian is hidden in Christ. We no longer seek to be known for our achievements but His; not our life but His death; not our shame but His glory.
Once we give up our own coverings and “put on Christ” we can know tremendous freedom. Christ Himself covers over our sin and shame. This is not a man-made covering. This is the LORD Himself offering to be my hiding place.
And once we grasp this, we can know true freedom. We can step out of our little hiding places – where we rob God and the world of our presence. We can stop dancing to the beat of fear. Instead we have Christ, the ultimate covering, who goes with us wherever we are. And, most importantly, who looks very good in the eyes of God Most High.
Confident in this covering, we’re enabled to be honest about our sin. With Jesus, we can be ‘naked’ before God and before trusted Christian friends. No more shrinking away from God and others. No more self-justifying, no more mask-wearing.
Transparency. Openness. Naked but not ashamed. Glory!
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10)
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