Have you ever been utterly surprised by something you thought you knew well? A familiar view caught suddenly in new light revealing fresh vistas? A phrase in a well known story that suddenly leaps out and hits setting off sparks in your imagination? A song you’ve heard a thousand times, and yet somehow you’ve never heard the underlying melody until today?
Have you ever thought to yourself, wow, this is the first time I’ve ever, seen/hear/thought that, and yet I am looking at/ hearing/reading something so familiar….
I want to challenge you to try to do that today, to open your ears and lend your imaginations afresh to the Genesis story, to come with me to the garden, to watch the scene unfolding…
Eve and Adam are hiding, they are feeling vulnerable and scared, they have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they have been forever changed, their joyful innocence has gone, they are aware of their own nakedness, their frailty is evident to them….
And God calls; where are you? Of course God knows where they are, but the question reveals a deep longing in God for his creation for something has now gone wrong, something has been lost….
Now I’m not talking about sin here, for you must note that the passage itself says nothing about sin or the fall, both of those are layers we have added to this account through the years, and it is now difficult to hear the story without hearing them…
But Eve and Adam are lost, they have lost their confidence, they have lost their open and childlike relationship with God, they are like street children thrust into adult lives too early, confused and hurting they have attempted to clothe themselves with fig leaves…
Dressed in this inadequate clothing they respond to God, and the blame game begins….
She gave it to me…
The serpent tricked me….
So what’s going on here? I wonder as I read the passages in Genesis if Gods plan might at some point have been to share the knowledge of good and evil with them, when the time was right, when they had grown in their relationship with him, when they were ready for such a burden….
For God’s plan is surely that we walk with him, in relationship with him, to grow in the knowledge and love of him. No loving parent would want to keep their children as babies, we want them to grow and to learn, to develop and to mature, and good parents allow their children to stretch the boundaries and explore new things one step at a time….
But the fruit has been eaten, their eyes have been open and Eve and Adam are lost, lost to themselves and to God in confusion, pain and shame….
And I wonder how often that is our experience, I wonder how much of our spiritual and religious life is so much an exercise in sewing fig leaves together in a vain attempt to clothe ourselves and to be presentable. How often do we hide from God and from ourselves trying to be something we are not? The truth is we are unable to cover our vulnerability and brokenness…
But God comes calling…..
Let’s leap in our imaginations now to the house where Jesus is, crowds of people have flocked to hear him, they can’t get enough of him, his teaching is new and open and radical, the God revealing ways that he opens the Scriptures and teaches have stirred in them a deep longing, an echo of Eden, a desire for healing, wholeness, and restoration, and they press in for more….
God is calling…. they are responding…
But not everyone is pleased, Jesus is drawing attention to himself and his family are confused, he is not holding to the social norms of the day, he is behaving strangely, he receives everyone, even tax collectors and prostitutes, lepers and adulterers, and they are embarrassed….
Jesus is teaching, and touching and healing, and the Pharisees, totally perplexed buy the God revealing acts they are seeing mistake the glorious work of the Holy Spirit as the work of Satan, and they declare he has a demon….
But Jesus makes clear, in the form of a parable, the scope of what he is doing in his freeing of the demon-possessed. Jesus is coming to plunder Satan's household and bring about his end, not by division from within but by stealth and force from without. Jesus' stealthy binding of the powers of evil ultimately undermines Satan so completely that even when he appears to have succeeded in destroying Jesus in the crucifixion, the very destruction of the Son issues not in defeat but in the mysterious victory of God.
Jesus will not be stopped, not by his family and not by the Pharisees, and he calls to the crowd to do the will of God, to become members of the new kingdom family….
God has come calling….
And hearing something fresh and new in his call the crowd respond, throwing aside their religious fig leaves they come as if naked and vulnerable before God who in Christ has shown himself in a new way, full of forgiveness and mercy, full of grace and truth, truth that sets them free from the rules that have bound them….
God is calling, calling to us today, for we are as vulnerable and broken as Eve and Adam, as frail and needy as the thronging crowd, and just as God did not leave Adam and Eve in their inadequate clothing but provided animal skins for them so he comes to us in Christ and offers us himself….
An animal was sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve; Jesus gave of himself to cover us, and he comes calling, calling us to clothe ourselves with the garments he supplies us with; compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Calling us to be quick to forgive an offense, to forgive as quickly and completely as he has forgiven us. And most of all he calls us to receive his garment of love, a garment so rich that it covers our brokenness when we receive it in humility and vulnerability….
The proud and the arrogant, the self righteous and the self sufficient ones cannot wear these clothes, they are given to those who know their frailty and weakness, the vulnerability and nakedness, for the clothes he gives us are the clothes of grace.
If we put on grace God comes calling through us, calling to the broken and the vulnerable, working in us so that we see our neighbour in need and offer to share the grace we have received with them, calling us beyond ourselves to touch the world in prayer, to bring out the God colours and God flavours in it, to shine a light into the dark places, to speak love and to reach out, to draw a crowd….
God is calling, calling us today to cast of our religious fig leaves and to become bearers of love and grace, to paint his picture, tell his story and sing his song…
And we need not be afraid for God knows us as we are and will cover us with all that we need, he will waken us to the Spirit within, and the miracle is that somehow our weakness becomes his strength, for he has chosen to place his treasure into the cracked clay pots of our lives and to make us beautiful….
God is calling….
How will you respond?