How would you feel if someone kidnapped you, stripped off all your clothes, and dumped you in the middle of a crowded shopping mall? As you stood there, bare naked, for all the world to see, what thoughts would run through your mind? How would the crowd around you respond?
Why does a scenario like this illicit such intense emotion within us? Why is the standing-in-front-of-your-classroom-in-your-underwear-dream a common and recurring nightmare for so many people?
Deep within us we all have hidden secrets. We all have parts of our physical bodies and parts of our emotional/mental/spiritual self that we do not want others to see. Deep down there are many things about which we are ashamed. We carry regret, we carry imperfections, we carry pieces of ourselves that we would never want anyone else to see. These elements of our lives are shrouded in shame. So, in light of these “shameful” pieces, we spend a great deal of time, money, and energy on covering up these pieces with fancy clothes, pretty faces, a positive mental attitude, a successful career, or whatever mask or cloak that will keep others from seeing our entire package.
Can you imagine a world without shame? Can you imagine a world where we did not have to cover ourselves? A world where people did not use each other for their own gain? A world where people did not look upon each other with a cynical skepticism, afraid to trust for fear that they might be used, made to be a fool, or hurt in some way. A world where people saw nothing but the good in each other, said what they meant, looked out for the good of the other, and loved deeply…with no shame, fear, or regret. Does this sound like the kind of world you would like to live in? Does this sound to good to be true?
Why do we have such a deep longing for this type of utopian society? We long for it because that is how we were intended to live. Adam and Eve were naked and they felt no shame. Adam and Eve were created in the full glory and presence of God, they had no knowledge of evil (remember, that didn’t come until the crunch of the fruit), they were naked before God and before each other. I believe that the mention of their nakedness goes far deeper than the fact that they had no clothes on their backs (or fronts!). To be naked is to be fully exposed and vulnerable before another. In our current, fallen world, we spend a great deal of energy trying to hide ourselves from each other. We don’t want people to see who we “really are” for fear that we might be rejected. We cover our naked bodies, but, even more intensely, we cover our naked souls. Adam and Eve did neither. Adam and Eve were fully exposed to one another and fully exposed to God (ch. 3 tells us that they walked together in the garden).
We were created to live in this type of world. We were created to be involved in deep intimacy with God and with each other. Does that mean that real christians should run off and join nudist colonies so that we can experience “full-exposure” and vulnerability? No. We couldn’t handle that. Unfortunately, on this side of the fall, that type of exposure would simply feed our distorted sexuality and lead to further pain and destruction. However, we should realize that the Kingdom of God and the purpose of the church on earth is to begin rebuilding this type of intimacy into humanity.
Here are three truths upon which you can meditate today:
1. God is a community of love.
We can see in the first two chapters many examples of the trinitarian plurality of God’s nature. In 1:1-2 we see God the Father creating, God the Spirit hover over the waters, and God the Word speaking all things into being. In 1:26 God said, in reference to the male AND female aspect of humanity, let US make man in OUR image. Finally, the Hebrew word for God in chapter 1 is Elohim, which is in the plural form. So what, you may be asking? By recognizing the fact that God is in Himself a community of three persons, we realize that God, by nature, is a loving community. If God’s nature, God’s image, is a loving, harmonious community, then all that God creates will be, by nature, designed to be a harmonious, loving community.
2. Humanity is designed as community.
The image of God was not given to the individual man. The image of God is the male and female nature of humanity. We see in ch. 2 that it was not good for the man to be alone. The individual male needed a completer, a complimentary counterpart that was very different than him and without whom he could not be whole. As humans we need community. We need others who are different than us to complete us and to connect us. To have a loving community around you is not a nice perk that you can hope to develop in your spare time after work. A loving community is like air, water, and food. It is part of your spiritual DNA. The longer you are in isolation, the deeper your spiritual unrest and dis-ease will grow.
3. You are invited to the party.
The community of God created the community of man in order to to invite the community of man into the community of God. In other words, God loves you and created you for the sole purpose of knowing Him and being known by Him.
We have spent so much time on this in today’s devotional because I believe this is a central (if not THE central point) of all theology and truth. You will not understand the purpose and meaning of the rest of the Bible if you do not grasp this fundamental point. Let’s state it again, in bold letters:
God created you because He loves you and desires for you to know Him, love Him and be loved by Him…now and for eternity.