Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Naked: why clothing isolates us

When was the last time that you stopped and marveled at the fact that God loves you? How often does it strike you that the Christian life and the Christian experience makes no sense and God is getting a raw deal? I mean come-on we humans can be pretty lousy people. But he stands by our sides and never gives up on us.

I am constantly amazed by how this whole sin thing affects all human beings. My friend and I were talking about the sin and shame cycle in the lives of guys (sorry we're not girls so we don't quite understand how y'all work ladies) and how destructive it is to our self-esteem. I lived in shame for almost 10 years, and somewhat still do, for my short-comings (something that I am overcoming) all because I misunderstand who God is and how he relates to me.

You see God loves me because of who I am, not because of what I do. It's crazy to think about. Our performance has nothing to do with God’s love. It’s great! God will never stop loving me, but sin blinds me to this fact.

I have talked with many guys and they all feel the same way, “I am alone in this struggle.” It’s a lie from Satan and it is the effect of sin on our lives. Sin brings with it isolation, a lack of trust directed towards others around us. I contend that the root of sin is self-not necessarily evil-and sin destroys the community that God intends for us to have.

In the garden Adam and Eve were one with God. God’s love for them freely flowed and they were able to walk around naked. If you read Genesis you’ll notice that the concept of Adam and Eve being naked was a big deal. Thus when they sin in chapter 3, one of the first things that they do is hide from God-and each other.

Adam and Eve could walk around naked because they had no insecurities. It’s a simple concept-you are the most vulnerable when you have nothing to protect you from everybody else. People can see you for who you are, every excruciating detail of who you are is bared before all to see. Humans as a species do not like this. So Adam and Eve covered themselves so that they could have the dignity of privacy.

But God did not create us with clothing in mind. We are created to be naked-to be able to bare everything we are to the world. To find our sense of self worth in God’s love for us, and not in what other people think. So instead of being naked, our world is relegated to hiding who we are behind labels and brand names. We find our identity in how we appear to people instead of in the fact that I am loved and accepted by my creator.

The problem with the human being is not that we hate each other, but we are so bent on creating an image of security and independence, so people don’t think we are insecure and dependent on what they think. We have become a group of hurting people trying to hide our hurts from other hurting people, who are in turn hiding things from us.

I believe that the love of Christ creates a security and sense of self worth that enables people to strip down and let others see what they have been hiding. Because Christ loves us and finds pleasure in us for who we are and not what we do, we as Christians are called to live naked before each other.

Jesus teachings were all about breaking down the status quo-“you will be first in the kingdom of Heaven if you are willing to be last here on earth.” Translation: God loves you, who cares if you finish first. He sees you as a winner no matter what. Stop trying to impress people.

Please do not read this and go join a nudist colony, or walk around campus or your town physically naked. This would not be a good thing! Instead think about how much you are hiding your hurts and insecurities from other people because you think what they think matters at all. If what the Bible teaches is true, God’s opinion is the only opinion that should matter to you.

Because when it is all broken down, it really is our clothes that isolate us.