The Second Question ~ July 14, 2019 ~ Genesis 3:7-9
What does Eve do next? Well, one of the realities of sin is that its effects spread. After she eats, the first thing she does is try to involve someone else – Adam, her husband – who was standing right there. I want to repeat this, because too many guys go this direction. This is not Eve’s fault. We can’t blame everything on Eve. Scripture is very clear. Yes, the serpent spoke to her. Yes, she picked the fruit from the tree. But yes, Bible says, she turned and handed it to Adam who was right there with her. So, he was watching. He could have said, “Honey, that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Don’t do that. Stop.” He said nothing. He listened to the serpent speak to her. He watched her pick the fruit from the tree, and when she turned and gave it to him, he too partook.
But that’s what sin does. It tries to involve other people. When we do something wrong, we often try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else. It makes us feel less guilty if a bunch of people are doing it. I think of a bully in high school, or in grammar school. Rarely is a bully all by themselves. They usually have this retinue of people with them, because it makes them feel less guilty, if they feel guilty, because a whole bunch of people are doing it. Sin is like toxic waste spilled into a river; it swiftly spreads. That’s what she does. It swiftly spreads, and they eat.
So, would you please join me in the unison prayer as we prepare to study the Word of God? Let us pray together.
Lord, upon the pages of this book is Your story. It is also our story. Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand, and our hearts that they may be transformed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The reading this morning is from Genesis 3:7-9.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
When the cool evening breezes were
blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So
they hid from the Lord among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where
May God bless the reading of His holy Word.
Let me ask this question: Have you ever been to a nude beach? Please don’t raise your hand. Sorry, that is not an image I want in my head! Let me ask a different question: Do you find it amazing that people can walk around without a stitch of clothing on and feel completely comfortable? I find that odd. But then I think to myself, what about those tribes that we watch on National Geographic specials that come from Africa? Or the Amazon Jungles? They don’t seem to give a second thought to wearing just a grass skirt or a little loin cloth, and everything else is just swinging in the breeze. Doesn’t seem to bother them at all. It makes me wonder: do they have it right? It certainly makes wardrobe choices easier, doesn’t it? Can you imagine getting up in the morning, you get up, you take a shower, you go to your closet to pick out something to wear for the day, and there’s nothing in it! You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry if your shirt matches your pants; you don’t care if your tie has a stain on it; you don’t have to worry about wearing a white belt after Labor Day! No issues! You just grab your briefcase or your backpack and you’re out the door. I don’t know if I could ever sit on a bus, but anyway. How much easier would it be if you didn’t have to worry about fashion? I mean, there really is nothing shameful about the human body. There isn’t, that’s the way God created us. In your mother’s womb, when you got your first ultrasound back, when she was pregnant and you put it up on the refrigerator, and you’re looking at this little life, this tiny little being. God creates us naked! That’s the way He made us.
So, why does Adam and Eve feel guilty? Why do they feel ashamed? Clearly, after sinning, Adam and Eve felt guilt and embarrassment over their nakedness, that’s what Caroline read for us. Why? If there’s nothing shameful about the human body, which there isn’t, why feel guilty?
Well, what is guilt, or in this case a guilty conscience? I think of a guilty conscience as a warning signal that God has placed inside all of us, that goes off when we have done something wrong. This little voice in the back of our heads saying, “You know what, Adam? That’s probably not the way you want to go. You may not want to do that. You absolutely shouldn’t say that.” The worst thing we could do is to try to eliminate that voice, ignore it – you know, it’s that little angel on your shoulder. The worst thing we could do is *flick* without eliminating the cause without saying, why am I feeling this way? Why is this voice saying this to me? It would be kind of like continuing to use painkiller, but not treating your disease. I hurt so I take a painkiller, but why do you hurt? I don’t know, I just take painkiller. You’ve got to treat the disease.
They feel guilty, they feel ashamed. They try to cover it up by sewing fig leaves together. Have you ever tried to sew a fig leaf? Not a very effective way of covering. The fact is, we should actually be glad about those guilty feelings. We really should. I think of it this way. I drive a 13-year-old car, it’s a 2006, but it has a feature in it that I think is really cool. When I put it in reverse, and I start to back up, it’s got sensors it the back, so if anything gets behind my car, it beeps! And the closer this object get, the frequency increases until finally it’s solid “beeeeeeep!” which is car talk for “Stop! Please! Now! Before you hit it!” I think of a guilty conscience like that, beeping, going off. We need to pay attention to it before we hit.
I know I’ve told this story before, but I’ve got to tell it again because it’s so perfect for this message. My boys are all grown, right? They’re in their mid-30s now, but when my middle son Justin was just a tyke – I don’t know, how old was he, five or six? We went camping a lot in our pop up trailer, and we had a minivan – yes, we had a minivan – I used to back up the minivan and hook the tongue to the trailer hitch, and I put Justin to sit up on the trailer, because he wanted to direct me into the trailer hitch. So, I’m looking in my rearview mirror, and there’s Justin sitting on the camper [motioning to keep going], and I’m going slowly, slowly, and [motioning to keep going], and the next thing you know, boom! And Justin goes [motioning to keep going, then motioning to stop]. It wasn’t real good radar, but it was funny!
I don’t think Adam and Eve were embarrassed over their nakedness, because the human body is nothing to be shameful about. I believe they felt shame because they knew they had sinned; they knew they had disobeyed God. They didn’t pay attention to the beep. It was going, “Beeeeep! Don’t eat from the tree!” They felt so guilty, they tried to hide from God. That’s a whole kettle of fish in and of itself – we’ll talk about it a little more next week. This prompts the second question in all of Scripture: “Where are you?”
Now, God is omniscient – all knowing – so, He would already know really where Adam and Eve is physically. You can’t hide from God. This isn’t about a game of hide and seek. It’s about accountability. It’s about giving Adam and Eve a chance – will they confess their sin? Will they repent of their sin? Will they ask for forgiveness? Or will they try to excuse or rationalize it?
What do we do? when we sin, when our sin guilty conscience meter goes off, oftentimes do we confess? Do we repent? Or do we rationalize and justify? “I can go take the grocery money to the casino and play the one arm bandits and play some blackjack! I’ve worked hard for that money, and I deserve that!” “My spouse doesn’t pay any attention to me anymore. I deserve to go to coffee with that friend from the office.” “I can have that other beer, nothing wrong with having a good time.” We rationalize. We justify. We have an incredible ability to justify and rationalize our choices.
This second question, “Where are you?” is not about where are you physically. It’s about where are you on your walk with the Lord? Are we trying to hide behind fig leaves? Are we justifying and rationalizing? If so, I’ve got one question: Why?
See, too many people think that Christians are supposed to be saints. You know, we’re always supposed to be good, and loving, and kind, and we’re never sad, or depressed, or upset, or selfish. Has that been your experience? Since you got saved, right, you have never been irritable or angry. You’ve never cut someone off in traffic. You’ve never used profanity that you shouldn’t be using. You’ve never yelled at your spouse or your children. You always say your prayers every night. You read your Bible with regularity. You go to church every Sunday you’re available, and you put money in the plate, right? No? Welcome to the club!
Maybe that’s why God asks the question. “Where are you?” I know it’s summer, but everybody doesn’t get twelve weeks of vacation. Where are you? I know things are tight right now, but you have nothing to put in the offering plate? Really? Nothing? I know there are only 168 hours in a week, and there are six seasons of that great show that you’re binge watching on Amazon, and there’s just not a lot of time for prayer and reading the Bible. But where are you?
Not only do people think Christians are supposed to be saints; often times – too often – Christians think they’re supposed to be saints. It keeps some people from going to church to begin with. You’ve heard the people who say, “I can’t go to church! If I walked into church, the walls would fall down and the ceiling would cave in!” These people may have been in church, they may have grown up in the church, they may be Christians; and they say that in jest, but maybe there’s a little voice in the back of their mind. Maybe they did something that they really feel is beyond forgiveness, beyond redemption. They’re not good enough to come. If you think Christians are saintly, or are supposed to be saintly, you completely misunderstand the Christian faith. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Christians are not perfect. They are forgiven.” Christians are not perfect. They are forgiven. We, South Congregational Church, are an imperfect Christian community; loving, serving, and equipping an imperfect world. God is not looking for saints. (Thank the Lord, because He didn’t find one here). He is not expecting perfection. He knows that’s not possible. That’s why He sent Jesus.
He is expecting effort. Do you know some young person – or were you this young person – who one time went in to take their math test and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and got a D? And when they got home their parents ask them, “What happened?” “I don’t know! I prayed and I prayed and I prayed!” “Did you study?” “Well, no, but I prayed and prayed!” God’s not going to give you the answers! That’s not how it works. He expects effort. He expects you to study for the test. He expects you to try. We’re not going to get it right all the time; however, when we don’t, as we read this morning, when we don’t get it right, what we do next makes all the difference. Are we trying to hide from God?
And think about it. The only person you’re fooling when you try to hide from God is yourself. We can’t fool Him. He knows where we are. Are we trying to hide from God? Or are we confessing, repenting, and committing to try and do better?
Look, when I mess up next – and I will, I promise you – I don’t want God saying, “Where are you?” I know where I’ll be: on my knees, asking God for forgiveness, and trying with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength to do better. That is Christianity. Not perfection; that is the Christian faith. Not hiding from God but seeking His mercy. Christian faith is not about claiming to be a saint; it’s about acknowledging you need a Savior.
So, how would you answer the second question in the Bible, “Where are you?” on your Christian walk? I am frequently on my knees. My goal, however, is to be on my knees next year less than I was this year. And my hope is, even less the year after that. I pray that before I die, before I draw my last breath on this earth, I might get it down to only once a day. Because I know I’ll never be perfect; that’s why I need Jesus. That’s why I love Jesus. He willingly took my imperfections upon Himself, put them to death on the cross, and offered me grace and forgiveness. That’s Christianity.
How about you? Are you wearing some fig leaves? Looking for God to give you all the answers to life’s test? Are you still trying to hide from God? If you are, you are basically turning your back on the cross, and all that Jesus did there. I pray that you are confessing to Him, you are repenting, you are seeking God’s mercy, because that’s what Christianity’s all about. I don’t know about saints – believe me, I don’t know nothing about saints – but that’s what Christians do. They confess, they repent, and they ask for forgiveness. If you have not been confessing, repenting, and seeking God’s mercy, you can start today. You can start this afternoon. God is in the forgiving business, and business is good. That’s why He sent Jesus, to forgive you. Not to judge you. Not to exclude you. To forgive you.
Ask Him. Don’t hide from Him. Don’t run from Him. Ask Him. Answer the second question, “Where are you?” with, “Here I am, Lord. Save me.”
Would you pray with me?