Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. —Mark Twain
It's the classic nightmare. Imagine that you find yourself in the middle of Times Square of New York completely naked... on New Year's Eve. Feels terrifying, does it not? Suddenly, your one objective is, "Run, cover, hide. I don't care what happens, but I'm terribly embarrassed. I've got to get out of here."
That shame, that horror, that drive to "get out of here" is the natural reaction you probably have when you recognize your unrighteousness before God. Because God is good, I must hide from Him because I am not.
This was the natural reaction of Adam and Eve the first time they sinned too:
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
When you're spiritually naked, you feel the gaze and the stare of God and others with nowhere to hide. When you come to grips with our unrighteousness, the natural human response is to piece together some fig leaves to cover up our shame:
- We immerse ourselves in our work. (God helps those who help themselves, right?)
- We get really religious. (If I do my part, God will be pleased with me, right?)
- We try to raise kids who behave in public. (If they look good outside, people will think I'm okay inside.)
- We try to get rid of the classic outward sins. (Drugs, sex, and rock and roll, anyone?)
- And we really tend to judge others. (As long as I'm not as bad as most, I'll get a passing grade, right?)
"Fig leaves" can sometimes protect us from judgment by other human beings, but they come with a price if we try to hide our sin from God, who is the only one who accepts us as we are, and the only one who can redeem us from the daily effects of the fall. What is the Truth?
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24)
Fig leaves deny this fundamental reality and rob you of intimacy with God. Jesus, the cross, and the grace of God make that intimacy always available... no matter how exposed and vulnerable your sin makes you feel.
Jesus, how foolish I am to try to hide behind fig leaves when You know it all anyway... and You forgive and love me always. I drop my guard before You now. I praise You for Your grace. Thank You, thank You for fully embracing me just the way I am. Amen.