Leading Questions - Where Are You?

Genesis 3:1–9 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

“I have no destination. I have a destiny. I don’t walk behind. I find new paths. Above the ordinary. To the extraordinary. We are passengers. On different roads. Part of the same journey. The spirit of travel.” The videography and the exquisite language of the narrator were truly beautiful. But this wasn’t poetry for the sake of poetry or art for the sake of art. It was poetry and it was art only for the sake of invitation. To be different. To be extraordinary. To be ahead of the rest of the normal souls who inhabit this orb. Or, at least, to be seen that way. Because truthfully? We live with ourselves all day everyday. There’s no hiding me from me. I am me. I can’t control that. What I can control - so suggests the video - is the me others see when they look in my direction.

How I might gain that control was something I thought I had better see. I clicked on the link below the video that read Discover the Collection. Honestly, I was very curious what might pop up. As the data heavy website loaded I wondered to myself, “What would the collection be? How would it look? How might it help me?” Finally, the site loaded and you know what popped into my view? A red handbag. That’s it. It was just a red handbag. Disappointed and a little bored I clicked on the link hoping to find out how much this Louis Vuitton handbag would set me back if, for example, I wanted to get my wife something nice. I scanned the page where the bag was prominently featured and finally saw the sticker price. Immediately I wondered to myself if along with the bag also came a bar of gold bullion because the price of the bag was - no lie! - $44,500.00. No cost is too great to pay when it comes to how we’re seen.

And, yes, now there is always a cost. Moses would have us know that. There was a time and there was a space and there was a humanity where it didn’t cost anything to look great, but a bitten piece of fruit changed everything. How profoundly? That’s what Moses is trying to show us. I mean it would be easy and almost natural for us to look at this account and say, “It was a quick snack at the expense of a silly rule.” Or, “It was just Eve being curious. What’s the big deal?” You could think that. That is until you keep reading and one bitten piece of fruit later Moses writes one of the most profound statements you’ll ever read, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked.” (v. 7) It’s almost like Moses is playing midwife. It’s almost like he’s just delivered these newborn humans into the world and they’re now blinking their eyes trying to adjust their pupils to see for the first time outside the womb.

And that’s because that’s exactly what had happened. Adam and Eve had just been born. They had just been delivered into the brand new world they had rebelliously created. It was a world where they would do what they wanted, not what God wanted. And it turns out that this brave, new, sinful world was incredibly disorienting to them. That’s why Moses presents them as newborns blinking as this new world comes into focus for the very first time. And what do they see? They see themselves. They see each other. And for the first time in world history their nakedness felt uncomfortable for them. Very, very uncomfortable. Yeah, now there was a little too much sexual interest. Adam was a little too interested in his wife’s body. He now had impulses for his wife that were over-the-top, twisted, and even perverted. And now Eve for the first time was evaluating Adam and his body in a totally new way. So, yeah, they realized they were both naked. But this wasn’t just the first case of body shaming or overly erotic thinking. It was more. It was far, far more. And far, far worse.

You have to understand something. These two adults were highly intelligent and incredibly sophisticated people with very advanced vocabularies. Adam had already performed admirably as a zoologist within moments of his creation. He was naming animals left and right. And, yet, as highly intelligent as they were and as advanced as their vocabularies may have been they didn’t have words like guilt or shame or sin yet. They saw those things. They felt those things, but they didn’t yet have words for those things. That’s why Moses wrote, “Their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked.” Moses is telling us that when Eve looked at Adam she saw him with a piercing and knowing gaze. She saw him and knew he was corrupt. And he saw that about her too. And it made them feel. It made them feel exposed. It made them feel horribly revealed. It made them feel naked.

You know what they did about it? They invented fashion. Sort of. Not Armani level and definitely not yet to the level of Versaci or Vera Wang. “They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (v. 7) There was no high design here. No planning. No attempt at beauty. Only desperation. Pure desperation. How do I know that? These were highly intelligent and incredibly sophisticated people who not only came up with what amounted to a fashion nightmare, but also to a practical mess. Eve’s leaf skirt would not only never see the light of day on a runway in New York, it was also the most impractical, least resilient piece of clothing that could’ve ever been imagined. These people were so desperate that they found the nearest tree to make fig-leaf shorts for Adam and a fig-leaf skirt for Eve. And why? They needed to stop this seeing. They needed to make it go away. No cost was too great. No expense was to be spared.

That fundamental need still exists. Back in 2006, New York Magazine in an article entitled The High Price of Fashion while discussing an Yves Saint Laurent gown priced at $33,905 and a Louis Vuitton handbag valued at $20,000 asked this question, “Does any of this make any sense.” You know what the author concluded? He said, “It does.” And why? “The tender heart feels safely revealed in (that kind of clothing).” Do you see it? I’m not begrudging any ladies their shoe rack. I’m not trying to take away any guy’s closet full of camo. I’m simply pointing out that now we all have an inborn sense that we should not be seen. Not truly so. We should be veiled. We should be covered. To be naked and to be exposed is to allow others to see that all is not well with us. That there are thoughts that swirl and feelings that are felt that are wrong and bad and evil. And so we cover ourselves - sometimes with a veneer of high (or low) fashion and other times with a veneer of religious interest - so we can stop others from truly seeing us. The hope? Maybe we can fool them and better yet maybe even fool ourselves.  

But none of it actually works. Not the coverings of religion. Not the beauty of high fashion. Nothing. How do I know this? Because Adam and Eve tried it and it degenerated into a ridiculous and tragic game of hide and seek, “They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (v. 8) Now I suppose I could point out how futile it is to hide from the God who knows where you’re going to hide before you ever even hide. I suppose I could also discuss how crazy and irrational it is to hide from the God who is so infinite that he’s already in the spot (always was) in which you intend to hide before you ever even hide there. I suppose I could do that. But do you know what the most tragic part of this game of hide and seek actually was? It shows how fallen, how dark, how sinful, and how lost we are without the Lord. The new human template? The new way humans work? The new way of the world? As Adam and Eve’s kids, we naturally do whatever we have to do to run and hide from God. Seek him? Not a chance. Find him? Even less remote. We’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure God won’t ever see us. Because deep down we all believe we know what he’ll do when he does.

But we’re all wonderfully wrong. We’re terribly and wonderfully wrong. You know what immediately happened after we all became guilty? The Lord didn’t sit in heaven wringing his hands and thinking to himself, “Nuts! Now I’ve got a whole planet full of people who are guilty and lost and running away from me! What am I going to do now?” You know what he did? He showed up that day just like he had showed up every other day before that to take his walk with them, “in the cool of the day.” (v. 8) It’s almost like he wasn’t panicked about the situation at all. It’s almost like he already had a premade and ready-to-go plan that he was now kicking into motion to deal with human sin once and for all. And when this calm and pre-planned Lord shows up on the scene and Adam and Eve start playing this tragic game of hide and seek you know what he does? Instead of losing his cool, he plays the game. That’s what he was doing when he asked today’s leading question, “Where are you?” (v. 9) Like since they were running, he would chase them. Like since they were hiding, he would seek them. Like since they didn’t want to be his children, he would find a way to become their Father.

And why does Moses tell us this? Because this is Genesis. This is the beginnings of everything. This is not only a real moment in history, but also the great prototype of how the Lord is going to deal with us. When we hide, he still seeks. When we run, he still chases. When we weren’t his children, he preemptively found a way to become our Father. Isn’t that just how it worked for you? You hid. And he found you. You ran. And he chased you down. You sinned. And he came and made himself your Father. That’s not only Adam and Eve’s history, it’s also yours. That’s what this story is showing us. The Lord God shows up to this new and awful world all cool and casual and right on time. He shows up whistling Dixie like nothing in the world is wrong. And then he calls out like any father might when they’re trying to find their kid, “Hey, where are you?” And why does he behave this way? So Adam and Eve feel safe. So they’re willing to come out into the open. So they understand it’s ok to be seen. So they take off the metaphorical fig leaves and allow the Lord to see them.

And why would he encourage them to do that? Because they were actually safe to do so. He wasn’t going to leave them naked or exposed. He was already settled on finding a way for Adam and Eve to be safely seen. He was already settled on making a way so he could ask them and us, “Where are you?” and without any compunction, without a hint of shame, and without even a second thought allow us to walk out from wherever we were hiding and say, “I’m right here.” And be seen with everything that that means. Be really seen. And not with any sin. And not with a hint of shame. And not with any searing knowledge of what we’ve done or who we are. Because no expense was spared. And no cost was too much. Already before the world’s creation the Father was settled that he would clothe us with the life and death of his one and only Son. And so it happened. And Jesus puts us so far ahead that eternity is already ours. Jesus makes us so different that God already calls us saints, the set apart ones, the holy ones. Jesus makes us so extraordinary – decked out in his ridiculously lavish faith-bestowed righteousness. And that? Well – I think it’s safe to say it allows us to finally and safely be seen with everything that that means.

It reminds me of that article I told you about called The High Price of Fashion. Do you remember why the author argued that a $33,905 Yves Saint Laurent gown or a $20,000 Louis Vuitton handbag made sense? He argued that it “made the tender heart feel safely revealed.” Safely seen. Exactly. When the Lord asks, “Where are you?” You’re safe to walk out from wherever you’re hiding with whatever you’re hiding with. And why wouldn’t you? When you’re clothed with something as haute couture as the life and death of Christ, you, ladies, will not only be able to be seen, you’ll be absolute revelations. And you men? I think it’s safe to say that no Armani suit or closet full of camo can ever hold a candle. Amen.

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