“I was naked so I hid”
Adam’s confession (if you can call it that, Genesis 3:10) to God after eating the fruit says much about what’s happened to humanity. His nakedness was not a problem before, but it is now. Having disobeyed God, he was now aware that God could see everything, and he knew there was stuff about himself, inside and out, that God would not find pleasing. Sin had come in, and he knew that he meant he couldn’t enjoy full, intimate fellowship with God. In this light, hiding from God was, in many ways, the right response (cf. Exodus 33:20, undoubtedly a consequence of the fall).
So God made skins for them (v22). An animal was sacrificed by God, so that humans could live without the shame of physical nakedness. But it was only a stop-gap solution, and only for a small part of the whole problem. The skins would wear out or rip, and would need to be replaced by another dead animal, and they did nothing for the shame of the other sins, particularly those of the heart. By sacrificing this animal, God is making it clear that even from the start, he is determined that humans will one day be able to live in communion with him and each other, and it is he who will bring it about.
Thankfully, wonderfully, through Jesus, we have this now (Romans 5:1).
So what does this look like now? We still have sin, and we don’t walk around naked. John puts it wonderfully (1 John 1:5-10)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The light/darkness theme has a double meaning. “Light” can mean God’s purity and moral perfection (and darkness the opposite)- however, we can also take this as being more literal. If we walk under the cover of darkness (i.e. hiding things from him) then how can we have full fellowship with someone which illuminates? That is why we confess our sins, so that we may continue to walk in the light, and have fellowship with God.
Crucially, in the same sentiment, we can no longer be in darkness with each other (as Adam and Eve would have felt shame with each other when naked). It’s kind of a shame that social etiquette means that we rarely, if ever, give a truthful answer to “how are you?”, even to those in our small groups. I don’t think that this means we tell everyone about our sins all the time, but rather I think it’s living authentically, being honest about our struggles, being willing to listen to our friends about theirs, challenging our friends when we see sin, and accepting these challenges when they come. As a small group leader, this is the kind of community that I would like to foster within our group.
But the challenge is, how do we get there? Answers on a postcard…