At the end of Genesis 2, just before the serpent shows, the Bible makes an interesting statement about the newly married man and woman. They were both naked. And they were not ashamed.
What an interesting note.
We might expect to read “the man and the woman were so happy and so in love.” Or “the man and the woman couldn’t wait to see what God had for them next.” Instead, we’re told that neither of them had anything to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.
Of course, the note is added here to foreshadow what’s coming next. The immediate result of the rebellion of the man and woman is that both Adam and his wife wanted to hide themselves. They were guilty of cosmic treason and they knew it. And they were filled with shame.
The fact that they felt shame shows that they were created in God’s image. Imagine for a minute a different response. Imagine the man and the woman shamelessly eating the forbidden fruit and instead of hiding, shaking their fist at God and saying “Your rules are wrong. Just leave us alone.”
We would look at them and think “have you no shame?”
Shame is the right response to sin. We should feel ashamed when we disobey our Creator. To be guilty and to lack shame is pathological.
And yet that’s exactly how some of us respond to our sense of shame. In an attempt to be free from the crushing weight we feel when we are aware of our sin, some of bow up, push back and try to drown out the pain by sinning more openly and more boldly.
Or we may go the other way. Confronted with shame, we run for the fig leaves. We conceal. We wrap ourselves in our own righteousness and do our best to keep anyone from seeing the reality of the messiness of our lives. If we can’t actually avoid shame, we think, at least we can keep the evidence hidden away from everyone else.
The gospel actually gives us a way to address the reality of our shame. It tells us we can own it without being crushed by it. When the voice in our heads says “you should be ashamed of yourself,” we can respond by saying “I know. I am.”
But in the very next breath, we can add this: “My King, Jesus, knows all about what I’ve done. What I’ve said. What I’ve thought. And He doesn’t love me any less as a result. He doesn’t reject me. He doesn’t condemn me. No. Instead, He says ‘Give your shame to me. I’ll wear it. I’ll carry it. I’ll pay for it.’ He pours out His grace on my guilt. He bears my grief and carries my sorrow. The burden is lifted. The guilt is gone. I am free.”
On the cross, Jesus hung naked. He endured the most shameful kind of execution. He was spit upon, ridiculed and mocked. The shame that Adam and Eve tried to cover, Jesus embraced openly. It crushed Him so it wouldn’t crush us.
When we sin, we should feel ashamed. It’s right to feel ashamed. But it’s not right to be held captive by the shame we feel. That’s the message of the cross. That’s what grace is for. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. So own your shame. But don’t let it own you. Or define you. Take it to Jesus and find hope again.
This weekend is your last chance to make a gift toward our playground plus project. So far, we’ve received a little over $9000 given for the play area we will be adding in early fall. Our goal has been to raise a total of $15,000 so we can take advantage of the matching gift that has been offered to us.
If you haven’t given toward the project, you can still give on line by clicking here. If you do, please send an email or a text to let us know the amount that was given for the project. Or if you write a check, note the playground fund in your memo line. Thanks.
We still need help on Sundays this summer in the nursery. Can spare one or two mornings to help care for our babies? It’s easy to sign up. Check your calendar today and then click here. On behalf of the kids – and their parents – thank you for giving a Sunday to serve them!
Years ago, the Ford Motor Company spent millions of dollars to let customers know that at Ford, “Quality is Job #1.” Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what is your “Job #1?” What should it be? Curtis Thomas will preach for us this week to help us gain a better understanding of the assignment God has for each of us.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!