Saturday, June 2, 2012

Naked and Unashamed

The subject of condemnation has been in front of me for several weeks now. It's a trigger topic for me. One that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I fight against with all I have. The Lord has been showing me several things lately and yesterday was the most beautiful thing yet.

To condemn means to express strong disapproval or adverse judgement. It is everything we should feel in the presence of a holy God apart from Jesus if that could that even be attained. Whether it is real or imagined, projected or self imposed, it is one of the most awful and painful things to deal with. God sent his Son not because he disapproves of us, but exactly the opposite, because of his great love for us. John 3:16-18 gives lots of insight to this.

Yesterday I was reading John Piper's book The Momentary Marriage and he was discussing Adam and Eve and the original marriage. He talks about the reason Adam and Eve were able to be naked and unashamed is not because they were perfect and had nothing to be ashamed of. Although this was a possibility, Piper gives a few reasons this theology doesn't work. He suggests the reason they were able to be shameless was because they were in the fullness of covenant love. In other words, they were free from shame because they had no fear of disapproval from each other.

Oh how I love this! It made me think of Hebrews 4:13 - And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him who we must give an account.

And a most alluring picture is made when we tie this in with 1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been made perfect in love.

Did you catch that? We are already naked and exposed before him and his love that endures forever  casts out fear of punishment. I love that! Did I mention I love that?

You see, in the garden Adam and Eve experienced the completeness of God's pledged love. There was no reason to fear His disapproval of them. There was absolute vulnerability and boundless assurance. That is the original way God wanted to be in relationship with us. For us to be able to know the freedom of taking every thought, every question, every hope, dream and desire to him and never feeling like he might disapprove of us.

What happened in the fall, and in every situation we are prone to feel condemned, the enemy whispers in all manor and variety of words but the same idea: "You can't really trust His perfect love." The enemy throws out a bait of doubt and if we take it, his classic calling card of shame is sure to follow.

I fully believe that Eve could have taken that apple to God and said "Hey God, this snake is telling me something about good and evil. What is that? What does he mean?" God is big enough and secure enough in who he is that he can handle our questions. He created our frail frame and knows just how limited we are. I would dare suggests he even expects our questions as we saw that he walked with Adam and Even in the cool of the day.  In the same way that I hope and expect my kids to come to me with all their questions and hopes, fears and dreams, I believe those were the same conversations God had with Adam and Eve on their evening walks.

He offers through Jesus, and desires for all people, to experience the beautiful gift of being naked and unashamed.  Totally transparent, and completely without fear. As John said "made perfect in love." These are the examples we saw him live out in his encounters with Nicodemus, the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery.

This is the picture he wants to paint in a marriage - a bride and a groom unveiled and unafraid. This is the picture he wants for the body of Christ to express - forgiven and free to confess our sins to each other. This is the picture of love - not that we have nothing to be ashamed of, but living in a genuine alliance that covers a multitude of sins.

This is the covenant He has made with us. A blood covenant through his Son. One without condemnation where we are safe to be naked and unashamed.

If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God's right side, speaking to him for us. Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:33-37

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