Gen 3:8-10 “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
We continue our study of spiritual intimacy. I began our series with the subject of humility – realizing our limitation in our knowledge about God, as well as our experience of Him – and the fear that accompanies that realization.
In order to combat that fear we often times create for ourselves a familiar god – a created Creator – a “god” we have control over that agrees with us rather than differ with us, that makes sense to us, a familiar God, one that entertains, and excites us, that’s at our beck and call. Or we create a “god” of the other extreme – one that is completely impersonal and unknowable. Both are ways to avoid intimacy with God. And neither captures the God of the bible who is both immanent and transcendent.
Our limitation is symbolized by the “nakedness” of our first parents. They knew. They accepted – at least they did so in the beginning. But then they were no longer okay with their limitations. They wanted to be “like God.” They wanted to become perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful. They were no longer okay with their imperfections and flaws. They were no longer okay with their natural true self. They became ashamed of their naked authentic selves. So they hid.
They wanted to be something they were not. They chose what was false – a false self. Maintaining that kind of false self is emotionally taxing. It requires a level of energy that we don’t have and thus is at the root of many of our psychological and relational problems. We simply don’t have the energy to maintain our false self. But we are too terrified to take off our masks. Too ashamed to accept our natural broken imperfect selves.
This kind of shame often turns into self-loathing. Self-loathing affects our mood. We feel like crap. So we do crazy things to try to change our mood. And then we become addicted to those crazy things (chemical substances, inappropriate relationships, sexual acting out, over eating, under eating, isolation, religion, being a “good kid” or being a “bad kid,” etc.) which may give temporary relief, but ultimately makes us feel even more powerless, more out of control, more limited – and therefore – more ashamed, which leads to more self-loathing, a deeper worsening of our mood – and the cycle repeats itself – snow balling.
We put ourselves in this bind, this bondage, this sin – unwilling and unable to give up our false self – for out of fear that we won’t be accepted. Sure, we may know intellectually that are accepted on the merits of Jesus Christ – but why can’t I let go of my false-self? Why is it so hard for me to trust in the goodness of Jesus Christ for my justification?
It’s not enough to give a pat answer of “pride” or “fear.” God’s question, “Where are you?” requires a deeper level of mindfulness in our response.