Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19)

Had Adam been given the naming rights of the creature that was fashioned from his rib, I suspect she might have ended up as “Wow.” He might have added, “There is no way that thing was made from dirt! Come, let us be alone no longer.” Would we ever get used to hearing pastors say, “And who gives this wow to be married to this man?”

But that’s not how it happened. Instead:

 The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

And what Adam really said was:

 This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

This is why:

 A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

There are so many directions one could go on a keyboard given our gender-challenged world where these fundamental truths have been discarded. In this hour of history we see that human courts have taken it upon themselves to become God’s judge in such matters. If there were any room for fear in the working out of our salvation, this circumstance would provide a reasonable basis for it. If ever there has been a living illustration of folly, it must be western culture. Listen to the Spirit in two passages warning us to not do what we have done and continue to do:

 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. (Galatians 6:7-8)

 God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:24-27)

Back to Eden. Why was it that the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed?  A comment by Paul regarding human nature in general may help to answer:

When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. (II Corinthians 10:12)

Adam and Eve did not have the disadvantage of having a multitude of prisoners of modern culture with whom to compare themselves. We moderns have literally millions of images stored away in our minds for the sake of fruitless comparison. Most were intentionally planted there by Madison Avenue. How deep is the madness of a culture that permits advertisers to fuel a perpetual discontentedness with who we are and what we have?  As the restless pawns (and the essential fuel of our economy), just how deeply are we entangled in this world?

Arlo Guthrie asks, “Hello, America, how are ya?” What should our response be to our conflict?  The Spirit tells us:

 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Mankind will not likely return to this place of innocence, at least as it pertains to apparel. However, knowing transparency and innocence (shall we call it freedom?) is surely fundamental to the life Jesus intended for us. Our hurdle, shame, is as unnatural as same sex union, yet it’s systemic to our culture. Shame in how we see ourselves drives not only fashion and finance; it drives relationship to God as well. I believe we reason in error, thinking, we must escape our shameful being if we are to ever know God. Dallas Willard rightly says that we live in a shame-based culture. (For a profound and thorough discourse on our hearts, by all means read his book, Renovation of the Heart.)

Religion is what we clothe our hearts with in order to cover our shame and enable us (we vainly imagine) to approach God. In our vain imaginations we believe we must first think particular things and do particular things to win God’s acceptance. However, when thought of in this way, church attendance, baptism, giving, and service all become filthy rags in God’s appraisal. There are simply no human thoughts or actions that can qualify us before God. They are worthless. They will even be damning if we die thinking we are adequately clothed with them.

Christianity (which began simply by Christ living in and through man) has evolved into a religion. Did Jesus really die to establish a religion?  Religion is simply any system of thought or practice whereby the doing of it causes us to think that we have gained the favor of God.  If life truly begins there (in the heart) as Proverbs 4:23 tells us, we must allow the Spirit to examine our hearts as to the why’s behind our thoughts and deeds. We should complete this sentence; “I am accepted by God’s because: fill in the blank. (I pray no extra space was required there.)

If we think we are in right standing with God and that we are assured heaven because of something we just placed in the blank space, we must rethink our position in comparison to God’s words. If we think we have performed in some way, or that our personal righteousness is as good as another’s (there’s that comparison thing again), we are standing on shifting sand. When the winds and storms come (especially the last one), we will have no foundation and it will indeed be finished. People often ask, “Why trials? Why suffering?” We must give thanks if God has sent storms in advance to expose the false work of our existing spiritual house. He is working in us and wanting us to reinvest our faith in Him alone, the only firm foundation for life.

When we stand before him we must be clothed in Christ alone. Even a peep about our righteousness on that occasion would be the ultimate absurdity in light of the glowing perfection of God’s holiness, which is the only and continual reference point we must have.

Be holy therefore as I am holy.

This can be achieved only by clothing ourselves in Christ, by being a vessel that he has come to inhabit in His Spirit. Today (as always) is the day of salvation. If we are laboring under the delusion that some particular something about us is inherently good, that our life, in itself, is sufficient, that our faithfulness to this or that has won God’s approval, then we must repent and put our trust in Christ alone and be saved. Being clothed in this sense is not only how God saves our souls, but it is also how God restores to us the shame-free and guilt-free hearts he intended for us.

Father, in your kindness, disrupt us in every way we trust in ourselves for our salvation or renovation. Let our restlessness evolve into longings which equip us to taste and to see, at ever deepening levels, Your beauty and Your glory. We invite you as Lord to challenge and overthrow any religious idea that may have lodged in our thinking, undermining the simplicity and the surety that is You alone. Blessed be Your name. Amen.



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