Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)
Now, hear me out. I have a feeling my words here could be misunderstood. But I also think I may be seeing something from a slightly new angle (for me) that may also be helpful to you.
As I’ve been reading Genesis again, I’ve been watching for how God is interacting with us (people) in the stories. What seems to be his heart. Where is the person we see in Jesus in the gospels. I’ve commented here already on how much I can see that God is with us, and wants to be. Even though we have been a mess pretty much from the start. That’s amazingly cool.
Another line stood out to me.
When Seth [son of Adam and Eve, after Cain killed Abel] grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. It was during his lifetime that people first began to worship the Lord.
Wait. Say that again?
It was during his [Enosh, grandson of Adam] lifetime that people first began to worship the Lord.
Really? What about Adam? And Eve? And Cain and Abel… what about the offerings that they brought, the ones that were acceptable and unacceptable. Didn’t God establish some kind of worship rules and schedule for them to follow? He didn’t?
Strangely, in this brief, overviewish jaunt through Genesis so far, one thing I have noticed is that God did not require worship. At least, I haven’t seen it. What I have noticed is a slow progression in the way we (people) feel towards him and interact with him.
In Genesis 2, Adam and Eve spent time literally in God’s presence. And he with them. When they had to fess up to eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God was walking around in the garden. He was right there.
There is a line in this account that I remember just chuckling at as a kid. Remember it? “Now, although Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame.” Tee hee! They were naked! Isn’t that funny!?
Until this day, I don’t think I really understood the significance of that. The fact that there is no shame was revealing much more than the basis for a life of nudism.
Consider the role shame seems to play not only in the next chapter, but the next ten chapters of Genesis, as sin completely overwhelms the human race, and Genesis says, “all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil.” The first effect of shame was that they felt they had to cover up their bodies. God found them hiding from him, the account says, because they realized they were naked. But could it also have been that they realized they had chosen what God had told them not to?
Following that, notice that Cain and Abel both start bringing offerings to God. Already, they are separating God from themselves. Adam did not do that. Adam and Eve did not. But one generation later, that is what is happening. And God continued to be with them.
Then Seth was born, and as I wrote above, it was during his son Enosh’s lifetime that people first began worshipping the Lord. Another step towards removing ourselves from God, distancing ourselves from him.
By the time Noah and his family got on the ark, God told them to make provisions for sacrifices which they offered after the flood was over and they were all alone on the planet.
Now, did God command them to offer sacrifices? Didn’t he by saying bring enough animals for a sacrifice demand to be worshipped? I don’t think so. Jesus said that God allows for divorce because the people had hardened their hearts. God knew that even “righteous” Noah and his family felt the need to offer sacrifices – which seems to be another step further down the road of separating ourselves from God than Cain and Abel’s offerings. (Says nothing of a “sacrifice” in that instance.)
Do you see how important it was that we had no shame?
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
We’re almost to Easter. Easter is often a time when we implore people to feel shame. Remember that it was our fault that Jesus went to the cross! He grudgingly took our guilt upon him, all the way to the cross, scorning its shame. Wait, what? It doesn’t say “grudgingly”? Oh? Right! It says this:
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Great pleasure. From the beginning of time, all God has wanted is to have a relationship with us. Him… with us. He pursues us. I submit that we, out of understandable shame, are the ones who separate ourselves from him. Not that he is not deserving of reverence and awe and worship. He is. But I believe he made us to be his kids… not his subservient subjugated subjects.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Jesus defeated sin, death, and shame on the cross that day. “For the joy set before him.” We’ve read before that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s so hard to see it, because we live with shame. We move God off to a distance because we know our shortcomings. He is holy, different, other. And he is. But I think what he wanted us to see in Jesus – the perfect representation of who he is – is that he’s not afraid to get a little dirty.
I think it’s great to sing to and worship God and even remind ourselves just how amazing and awesome he really is. But in the end, what he seems to want most of all, is for us to just be with him. To know him.
Jesus, and the cross, gives us the freedom to do that. The freedom to be ourselves – naked – with him.
That’s something worth celebrating.
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