+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There is a magazine cartoon that shows a psychiatrist with his filled-up pad in hand saying to his patient, "Now, my friend, besides your fear of nerve gas, irritating tars, sonic boom, human wolf packs, rock music, Wall Street, DDT sprays, plastic bombs, the Birch Society, labor unions, riots, intercontinental missiles, urban sprawl, inflation, unemployment, Red China, street crimes, and revolving credit, do you have any IRRATIONAL fears?"
They had disobeyed God and they were afraid of what He might do to them. Their fears were real and quite rational. What do you do to hide from God? They jumped into the bushes because they didn't know what else to do. You can probably picture them peaking through the branches and leaves, checking to see if God knew where they were. Maybe one turned to the other and gave an anxious "sush." He'll hear you! They're fear was real, soundly based and quite rational.
People, you know, do ridiculous things when they try to hide from God. When God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah to preach repentance to them, Jonah said, "I don't want to go there." "I don't like those Ninevites." "If I preach repentance to them they'll probably repent of their sins and then God will forgive them and who wants that!?" Jonah got into a boat to sail to Tarshish on the other side of the Mediteranian Sea. He reasoned that surely God wouldn't find him in Tarshish.
David, on the other hand, Israel's King, in his guilt and shame, knew that there was no way that he could hide from God. He learned something by revelation that we all know to be true. "O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!"
God is all knowing and He's present everywhere. Therefore, He knows us better than we know ourselves and He sees deeper into us than we are able, or, even willing to look. So, like Adam and Eve, we play our games with God. We hide from Him. We bob and weave in a fruitless effort to escape His piercing eye and His angry judgment. And maybe worst of all we pretend that we aren't as bad as we really are, or, that our sins, our failings, really aren't our fault.
A mother, leaving the house to go to town, told her little boy, "Johnny, while I am gone, don't get into the jam." "No, Mom, I won't," he promised. When she returned, she noticed jam between Johnny's fingers and in the corners of his mouth. "Didn't I tell you not to get into the jam, she said?" "Yes, Mother, you did." "Johnny, didn't I tell you that when Satan tempts you, you should tell him to get behind you?" "Yes, you did." "And I did tell him to get behind me, but, when he got there, he pushed me in."
As you are no doubt aware, a common technique for hiding from God is the "blame game." You know how it goes. Someone or something else made me do what I did and behave as I do. I'm not responsible. Someone else is. My parents were too strict. Or, maybe they were too permissive. We were poor. We were rich. We moved too much. We didn't move enough. I was the youngest. I was the oldest. And you know how that is!
Eve blamed the serpent. "He deceived me, she said, and I ate." For her it was the serpent's fault and, at least at that point, she wasn't willing to confess her part in her disobeying God.
Adam, on the other hand, chose not to blame the serpent. Rather, He chose to blame Eve, and, in doing so, he actually was blaming God! "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Did you hear that? "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." In other words, God, if you hadn't given this woman to me, none of this would have ever happened. God, it's your fault! My sin, my disobedience is Your fault! I do what I do because You made me this way! Besides, You put obstacles in my way such that I can't really be expected to live a righteous life! God, it's your fault!!
Our efforts to hide from God and our attempts to bob and weave to avoid His judgment are pretty astounding, aren't they? If we aren't blaming God or someone else for our sins, we are probably holding up our own supposed righteousness as a defense, a shield against His anger and wrath. And the thing is, this is probably the greatest temptation of the children of God. Having been given God's grace in preaching and the Sacraments, having been made right by God's work and by His grace, we continually want to hold up ourselves up as enlightened people, people who know what is best for us.
Many members of the Kansas House of Representatives were shocked by a prayer they heard at the opening of a session on Jan. 23, 1996. It included the following observations: "We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternate lifestyle, we have exploited the poor and called it the lottery, we have rewarded laziness and called it welfare, we have killed the unborn and called it choice, we have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem, we have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition, we have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression, we have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment." (Wichita Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, Jan. 24, 1996).
God, of course, doesn't accept our excuses and rationalizations any more than He accepted Adam and Eve's. Rather, He condemns the serpent, holds Adam and Eve responsible, holds us responsible, and then He promises that He, THAT HE, will make His creation right again.
Adam and Eve's rebellion caused death in the Garden. God sacrificed an animal. He took its skin and He clothed His children. He covered their shame. Adam and Eve knew though, as did God, that their shame went deeper than their nakedness. It pierced the very depths of their souls, it left them wondering continuously about this God who wanted to be a part of their lives, it left them wondering if they could ever be good enough for Him to love them again.
God indeed did and would love them. He would offer another sacrifice, one that would cover the shame and the guilt that pierces the soul. "I will put enmity between you and the woman (God said), and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
The creation is new again because Jesus, God's Son, the seed of the woman, has born the sins of the world in His own body! My friends, this is a profound mystery. Jesus became your guilt! He became your shame! God hid His face from His Son because He became too hideous, too stained, too sinful to even look at Him. Jesus cried out! He wanted His Father to see Him, to be with Him, to help Him in the hour of His greatest need. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" But, "God's eyes are too pure to behold evil." His Son would die forsaken, for He became the embodiment of evil for you.
The light dawned on Easter morn to reveal the smiling face of God. God dwells again with His creation. Indeed, "where two or three are gathered together in His name, there is He in the midst of them." He calls you out of hiding to come and commune with Him, to partake of the body and blood of His Son. Blame and pretenses are set aside, for here He makes things right again. Your shame is taken away. Here you are covered with the very righteousness of the One who embodied evil on your behalf.
In giving you His Son, God comes to be with you and to commune with you. In Him, your fear of judgment, your hiding, your bobbing and weaving is IRRATIONAL. What is rational is what's real, God's grace poured out for you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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