Hiding is what we do
‘The Lord called to the man, ‘where are you?’’ (Genesis 3:9)
From the moment sin entered the world, humanity did two things. They hid from the Lord, who had only ever wanted their good and they sought to cover up: ‘so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings.’ (Genesis 3:7).
I want to suggest that hiding from God and the need to cover up, are two symptoms of fractured relationships, that we see today in ourselves and others.
I recognise it in myself anyway. A few months ago I spotted an innate desire in myself to want to hide from God. Perhaps we can all feel it sometimes. We fear the truth. Even if we are personally convinced, as I am, that Jesus Christ is the pure definition of love. And so, we prefer not to read certain parts of Scripture, or perhaps more significantly, to put them into practice. ‘What will happen if I actually start living this teaching?’ Perhaps we don’t want to spend time in prayer for the reason that we might actually feel we have to confront something in ourselves, or to have God shine his light on us. Perhaps even an addiction or harmful behaviour, is essentially about trying to hide from ourselves, God, or others. Easier to plummet into that thing, than to stay and walk the path of discipleship with our loving creator, which sometimes involves him straightening things out. Hiding was the option that Adam and Eve went for, and so much of our behaviour has to do with that if we break it down. Yet John 1:1-7 says that if we ‘walk in the light as he is in the light’ it will be good for us.
Why do we hide from God? He sees everything anyway!
Then there is covering up. How much time do people spend in the work place literally trying to cover for themselves? ‘I didn’t do it, ‘I did the piece of work on time’, ‘Of course I sent the email,’ ‘It was Bob who was meant to book the meeting room; everyone knows that.’ Now of course, being truthful is a good thing from the ten commandments! But I think we can all agree, the zeal with which we pursue these things, might be more about ourselves.
Then there are the masks that we wear. Even when we know as believers, our identity is in Jesus, we can all slip into mask mode and avoiding letting anyone see the ‘real me’.
I spotted this just this morning in my reading: ‘The first effect of sin is always to make us hide, with the result that we are pretending, we are wearing a mask, we are not real with either God or man. And of course, neither God or man can have fellowship with an unreal person.’ Pg 38, The Calvary Road, Roy Hession.
Now, it is probably true that we shouldn’t just ‘let everything hang out’, as they say. Giving everyone what we think all of the time and a piece of us, is not loving. That is why Jesus spoke about serving others in loving humility. We seek to live more genuinely to serve others, rather than just to promote ourselves. That is just a different kind of egotism, which is equally damaging and symptomatic of sin: ‘I am the great I AM.’ ‘I am God’, is the subtext to this lifestyle.
So there has to be balance.
But perhaps I can encourage you to think, as I have been doing, about when and how we might hide from God and cover up?
The great truth, is that in Christ, God comes to us and covers us. He did it with Adam and Eve actually in a prefiguration of what he would later do through Christ (Genesis 3:21). The truth we must think on, is that Christ came and searched us out for relationship with us and to place us in relationship with others in the church. He also came and specifically covered us with his blood. The Bible is emphatic that this salvation we have in the gospel was a covering (Romans 4:7.) We are no longer on our own; but ‘in Christ’ if we have received him in faith (Romans 6:1-14). That is a wonderful tool in the hand of a Christian pastoral counsellor, if we think about it. And it is something we can all use with ourselves and our brothers and sisters, for encouragement.