“The serpent told the Woman, ‘You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.’
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did ‘see what’s really going on’—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.
God called to the Man: ‘Where are you?’
He said, ‘I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.’
God said, ‘Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from’?” Genesis 3:4-11 (MSG)
Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden enjoying life. Everything around them was lush and beautiful. God set up one stipulation to follow: don’t eat from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. One tree was off limits in the middle of the garden. They could enjoy all the beauty and benefits of the garden, but there was one tree that God set as off limits. Yet, when temptation came, the rationale of man outweighed God’s instruction. In that moment, they could not have known the weight of their decision. Out of their disobedience came shame. In a moment, the beauty of the garden felt empty. This feeling of shame that they had never experienced before caused them to want to cover and hide. When God came strolling through the garden to walk with them, they couldn’t face Him. As they were hiding behind trees and bushes hoping to not be found, God still came looking for them. When Adam told God his explanation, God had a question for them: “Who told you you were naked?” And ever since that first moment, we have been dealing with shame and inadequacy.
We don’t talk about it very often, but shame can cause us to hide. Not only do we hide, shame is something that you can feel; it weighs you down. Instead of sitting in the front at church, we want to sit in the back, hidden by the other people. We imagine that God is not only judging us, but so is everyone around us. Shame can seep into other areas of our life, as well. Instead of talking with your spouse about a spending addiction, you take everything and hide it away. Instead of asking for help to overcome the pornography addiction, the hole gets deeper. Maybe you are just ashamed that you lost your job that you tried so hard to keep. Instead of facing the situation, our embarrassment causes us to shrink back. We start hiding behind trees in our lives, but God is still looking and asking, “Where are you?” When people start pointing their finger, we want to run away and hide. Yet, if this is our response, we have missed a key component to our relationship with God. If shame from others causes us to shrink back, then we might have forgotten “Whose” we are. This might be the question for you: who told you that you were not enough? Who told you that there was a reason for you to hide? Sometimes our shame and inadequacy is not just mirrored by our relationship with God but with other people.
Romans 8: 1-4 (ESV) says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Our freedom from the oppressive feelings of guilt and shame do not come by our own accord. It comes through Jesus. What you and I could never do for ourselves was accomplished on the cross when Jesus died for our sins. So, as we look back to the original question of “Who told you you were naked?”, our nakedness and shame have been covered. God says that you are enough. We don’t have to hide, because Jesus reaches into the deep, shameful places of our lives and redeems them. So, instead of letting shame rule us, it’s time to bring it to Jesus. Instead of shrinking back, ask God to give you courage to confront the areas of your life that cause you to want to hide. In the same way that God was looking for Adam and Eve in the garden, He is looking for us when we want to run away. Only when we run to Him can we experience a new found freedom that only Jesus can give.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”