Anyone with children experiences a time when they encounter a mess – perhaps it’s a shattered dish on the floor, a bag of flour emptied in the pantry or a small child in the living room covered in baby powder. My favorite was the day I found my toddler son in the bathroom surrounded by feminine products that he had sytematically taken apart.
Most likely these findings spurred a question on the part of the mother (or father) that went something like this, “Son (or daughter), where are you?” “Why are you hiding?” “What did you do?” None of these questions required an answer because you, as the omnipotent one in the family, knew what happened. You didn’t need the child to answer the question for your sake. The child needed to answer the question for his/her sake. It’s a part of the healing process.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve have this same type of encounter with their Father God.
25Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame….7At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. 8When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” 11“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked.Genesis 2:25; 3:7-10
I always marvel at this passage. God clearly asks Adam and Eve questions for which he already knows the answers. And yet, there is an important lesson to be learned. This is what I immediately notice in this passage.
God created us free from shame. Adam and Eve stood in a completely vulnerable state before God and did not know shame. Notice how their disobedience affected their relationship with Father God — they hid because they felt shame.
God still wanted relationship with them even though they chose autonomy over obedience to him. He sought them out, he gave them opportunity to come clean, he initiated an ongoing relationship even when Adam and Eve chose hiding.
His question, “who told you that you were naked?” reveals something about God. In essence he says, “I don’t condemn you. So who is doing this?”
It is human nature to hide when we choose our own way over obedience to parents or others in authority, including God. Shame comes along and encourages us to hide, telling us we are no longer safe. It tells us that we are a mistake rather than that we made a mistake. There is a huge difference.
Jesus does the same thing with the woman caught in adultery. Listen to his questions for her.
10Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”John 8:10-11
It’s the same scenario just a few thousand years later. Jesus asks the woman, “Isn’t anyone condemning you? Well, neither do I!”
Perhaps you are hearing the Lord call your name from the hiding place where you huddle down. Shame at your nakedness overwhelms you, so you’re afraid to answer. Be assured, he’s just going to remind you that he has already taken care of your guilt. He isn’t condemning you; he needs you to see who is. Go ahead! Answer his call. Take his questions. It will be the best thing you do today!