Some of us look back to the year that’s just been, that has been a difficult year, and the year coming. The time of transition. Sometimes when you are out and about, (perhaps in the store) and someone will say “have a good day,” when it’s obvious you’ve been having a very difficult day up unto that point, (and potentially you might think that part of the reason my day is difficult is because of my business with you,”) so sometimes one might instead say, “have a better day” so you can acknowledge it hasn’t been quite perfect up to that point. We can say that about “next year.” We can say we’re looking forward to a better year, than perhaps the one we’ve just gone through. But we’ve also had our blessings! And part of the blessings, is being thankful in the trials! Thankful just as well, as in the good times! It’s been a break out year! A break out in viruses. A breakout in politics, etc. But you’ve survived. Some of us have lost loved ones, both family and friends. Those who suffered those losses, it has really been a difficult year! It can cause you to look at the seasons of your life, that this year represents, and question what will it be like in the year to come? Most of us in hope, look forward to a better year coming up. Our attitude and motives will have much to do with how we define that. We have choice and control over our attitude. These difficult times causes us to realize how vulnerable we are, to forces beyond our control!
TEXT: GENESIS 2:7-9. 15-25
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh;
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
This is a quick summary of the creation story, what Adam would call the living creatures, and that God had great love and interest in us, and what man would do with it. And at the end of this narrative, the man and woman were both naked, the man and his wife ..and were not ashamed. So this, a kind of beginning without any threats. We will be speaking about 3 different themes that would come out of this narrative in relation to the year we’ve just gone through. How they can “speak” to us in the year that is coming, and cause us to pause to evaluate our own spirit, our own situation, in this kind of “twilight week,” between the year that is expiring and the one that is coming. So this message is being called, “Safe, and not ashamed,” coming from the 25th verse. That’s how God wants it for us, and all on the planet. There are three themes that come out of this passage. One, is safety (physical, emotional. spiritual). The other is vulnerability and how those 2 interact. And the third is, “not ashamed.” 1. Safety. 2. vulnerability, and a kind of “emotional security” that we’ll call, 3. “not ashamed.” First let’s speak about being spiritually safe, and vulnerable at the same time, and the interplay of them. “They were both naked, and not ashamed.” A person cannot be or feel safe from harm, unless the harm is removed from your presence. We can’t feel safe when we’re confronted by threats. So when someone feels safe, there can be development in that person. But threats that will confront them, will cause the “safe” person from developing, as in being insecure instead, causing them to be “stuck in that moment.” They cannot develop, or they have difficulty developing, or they develop in a way that might not be healthy. So we’re talking about the relationship between safety and healthy development, and there’s a sense of vulnerability that the bible gives us here. They were both naked. They had no place to put on their person a weapon, no belt to strap a sword, they didn’t have a coat or garment that would protect them from beasts that would scratch, or attack them; they were as you would be when you were born! They had nothing outwardly to protect them, and the reason was there were no threats in the garden that confronted the man and the woman. They were completely safe!
God had created a life for the man and woman that involved complete safety. He had removed all the threats to the outside! From even the animals He had created. And He waited to see what the man would call the animals, and they were not a threat, and the man knew that, as also did his wife. So wherever they went in the garden, they felt completely safe. By the end of chapter 3, when they had disobediently eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, around verses 18-24, He compelled them to leave the garden He had made. So it is evident that there was something outside the boundaries of the garden that God had created, because it was there for the man and the woman to go to. So God had prepared a paradise that we should occupy in this life, but at the same time there was a place outside the “paradise” that I’ll call the “wilderness” this morning, that man and woman were not intended to occupy. That was a place of threat, for God declared Adam was to work in the sweat of his brow to till the fields, and with the thorns and thistles, and in pain would the woman bring forth children. That was in the wilderness place outside the garden and not the intended place for them. So we’re talking about a place that is safe in the boundary of the garden, and yet there is a vulnerability that is kind of a type of nakedness that He refers to in the second chapter. Outside the boundaries of this garden were threats, which the bible tells us about threats to us which the ultimate one we face, ..is death. That is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. There are many threats we face in this life, and we faced many this year. The threat of this virus, the civil and political unrest, the economic unrest, and certainly the job situations and all of those things still going on. We go through these things in life, and hopefully we won’t again like this past year. Who would have anticipated we would have done this, right? So we can’t pretend this will never happen again. And ultimately the greatest threat we face is death!
But at the end, God said even death itself shall be destroyed in the resurrection! The question is, which side will we be on? For when death comes, there will be a resurrection of judgement or justice, ultimately! The question is, are we living our life in anticipation of that? And also, the life we’re living today, are we in a paradise with God, ..today? Or are we yet in a wilderness? The difference between the two, is the boundary that God has established. Man did not establish it, God did! The difference between the wilderness and paradise is this boundary. We’re speaking about the difference between spiritual safety and vulnerability. They seem to be connected. When we’re talking about this paradise experience in the garden, they were both naked, or completely vulnerable. And you and I today, can’t imagine going out of our house, being completely vulnerable to the world. Sometimes this vulnerability comes up between even family members. There are many who say “I do my best to obey His commandments,” yet struggle with being vulnerable. First to God, but also to another person. All this fits like “hand in glove; ” Jesus said one of the greatest commandments of all the prophets, is “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” In order to really do that, there has to be a sense of vulnerability about you. Vulnerability means that you don’t need defenses. We’re talking about being spiritually safe and vulnerable. You don’t need defenses, because you fear no threat of harm. You don’t fear your companion, child, mom, dad, you don’t fear your neighbor ultimately, so therefore you don’t have to “strap on” the defenses. Think about Adam and Eve in the garden, naked, completely defenseless not only to God, but to one another. Completely vulnerable! And that vulnerability is actually what is producing the safety inside this paradise. I want you to think with me for a minute. They had no fear of the lack of shelter or food, or attack from something else. So when there’s no fear, there’s complete vulnerability because you don’t need to defend yourself.
Today, since that time long ago, there are lots of defenses humans use, because they don’t feel safe! Cynicism; a way of thinking negatively and making jokes about it. Being cynical, ..that’s a defense. Because of not liking vulnerability so we put up this “fence” around us. Sarcasm. There was no sarcasm in the garden! Sarcasm is a kind of defense that is used to keep something from us. Anger is a defense, that helps “keep away” threats because we feel vulnerable. There was no anger in the garden. There was no bitterness, because there was no anger that had not been resolved. Bitterness is just anger that never gets resolved. These are defenses. I hope we’re all thinking about, “myself.” There was no jealousy, no self protection in the garden. There was nothing to protect, because they were completely safe. They were not self absorbed in themselves. Why? Because they didn’t need to be. The reason is, God was their defense! God had created this boundary around this paradise they were in, that protected them from the outside. That’s the reason they could be completely vulnerable before God and to one another, because God had created the defenses!
Safe and Not Ashamed