“And they (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ (Genesis 3:8-11 ESV)
When I was a couple of years old, my parents would sometimes put me in a baby pool with my cousins at my grandma’s house, and we would splash together. It was lots of fun! But the day came when I refused to go into the pool, because I had no swimsuit, and I was ashamed to be naked in front of other people. How did I know? I think I must have heard my older cousins talking about it, and I learned to be ashamed.
In this story from Genesis, God knows something has gone wrong when Adam and Eve are ashamed of their nakedness. Someone has spoiled the innocence of paradise, and shame has entered the world. And it’s not going away. God deals with the sin, and He deals with the devil who led them into sin; but then God makes clothes for Adam and Eve. From that point on, the times when they will be naked and not ashamed will be few and far between.
What exactly is the problem with nakedness? I think it has to do with being known. I am not willing to have all my physical flaws on display. I know just how judgmental people can be. The same is true for my heart and mind. I am glad we do not live in a world where everyone can read my mind. And who would willingly allow people to publish their teenage diary?
There is only one circumstance in which I am comfortable being seen—exposed—completely known. That is when I am absolutely sure that the person seeing me is not going to judge me—not going to hurt me—not going to put me to shame. And most of the time, that means love. Not the halfhearted love of the critical, but the wholehearted, compassionate, accepting love of someone who cares more about me than him- or herself.
Does God love us this way? Yes, oh yes, though it can take years for us to finally trust that this is true. He alone can know us completely and still love us, still accept us, still refuse to tear us down on account of the ugliness of our shame. For those of us who belong to Jesus, there is no more condemnation—no rejection, no shame, no “I’m just saying it for your own good.” God walks tenderly around us, knowing our wounds. When He disciplines us, He does it in ways that do not destroy us further—ways that build us up, without tearing us down.
God understands nakedness—both in innocence and in shame. He hung naked on that cross where He died for us. He hid nothing from us—not His wounds, not His heartbreak, not His love for us. He used His own shame to cover ours—to take it away forever. And now that He has risen from the dead, He makes Himself our covering—better than that, our glory. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
THE PRAYER: Lord, help me to relax and trust You to know me entirely, because You love me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Republished with permission from Lutheran Hour Ministries
1. In what situations do you feel okay being naked?
2. Why are those situations okay, but not others?
3. How do you feel about God knowing you totally—are you okay with that, or is it still a bit uncomfortable?