By Miriam Rossow
In my last blog, Adam, Where are you? A Call to Love I wrote,
This call is an invitation to come out of hiding. It is a call to come bring our shame in front of truth and to receive love. The call is not meant to add shame. The call is a way to confront shame and guilt in the presence of the One who can forgive and wipe away the shame and guilt.
What does it look like to live so we and others hear this call as an invitation to love and not shame? What does it mean to have a church that does not shame and guilt and rather a church that invites us to acknowledge our brokenness and our shame in front of Jesus?
What does it mean to have a church that does not shame and guilt and rather a church that invites us to acknowledge our brokenness and our shame in front of Jesus?
The answer to this question could be to sweep all our sins and brokenness under the carpet. It could be we say there is nothing to be ashamed of. None of the wrongs you have done are wrong. Each of us can choose the way we live and nobody should be ashamed of the way they live.
This sounds like something the world would appreciate. While we should not be ashamed of who we are in Christ, we are no longer the perfect creation. We make choices in our life that are not the best for our bodies, for ourselves, for our relationships, or for those around us. We make choices with the way we live that make others and our lives difficult and broken.
Look back at the text Genesis 3: 14-19 and notice that God did not think it was OK to ignore what Adam and Eve had done. Or for that matter what the devil had done. God does not ignore the sin. He confronts it. He allows Adam and Eve to squirm around and try to justify what they had done. He allows them and helps them to step into the realization that there was a problem. God confronts the problem and gives a consequence. The answer from God is not to hide or cover up the mistake rather to step into it and acknowledge it.
God does not ignore the sin. He confronts it. The answer from God is not to hide or cover up the mistake rather to step into it and acknowledge it.
Maybe the answer is everyone for themselves. You deal with your mess and I deal with mine. Each to his own and everybody fend for themselves. If I can’t hide it and ignore the problem, then I will fix it and don’t try and help me!
If we are honest with ourselves we all know we can’t actually fix all of our messes on our own. Most of the time when we do this we end up making a bigger mess.
Another problem with this answer is that if we look at how God handled this original mess He did it with Adam and Eve, together.
The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
Adam and Eve were with each other. They hid together. They were both called out. They heard each other’s excuses and blames. Adam and Eve were not allowed to hide the mess and they were not allowed to try and solve the problem on their own. Even the serpent, the great deceiver himself, is not allowed to hide and slither away from the problem or the consequences.
Adam and Eve were not allowed to hide the mess and they were not allowed to try and solve the problem on their own.
We can see in our second question from this series, ‘Where is your brother?’, that ignoring your brother or hiding from the problem is not acceptable. After Adam and Eve have been kicked out of the garden they have children. Cain kills Abel out of anger, greed, and a feeling of rejection. Again the LORD calls, He invites Cain to confront the wrong he has done. God does not leave Cain hiding and justifying his actions.
In this question God assumes that brother will take care of brother. He has put them in a relationship that requires them to watch out for each other. God does not want us to be alone to mope or to try and solve our problems. He has put us in relationships that are messy and where we can be angry, have greed, and feel rejection and yet God expects that we will watch out for each other. He expects dependence on Him and forgiveness through Him.
He has put us in relationships that are messy and where we can be angry, have greed, and feel rejection and yet God expects that we will watch out for each other. He expects dependence on Him and forgiveness through Him.
So if we are called to come out of hiding and confront our mistakes, AND we are called to do it in relationships AND we are not called to assume everyone is right or make everyone feel utter guilt and shame, what do we do as a church?
The answer is that word relationships. This answer is not an easy one to accomplish. Even as I write this blog I struggle with what that looks like. I have written and re-written this ending numerous times!
Two of our values at St. Luke deal with this idea of relationship; openness to people and expression and connection through authentic relationships. St. Luke, you have in your DNA the answer. The hard part is in the implementation. Finding ways to connect with each other and build relationships where we can be open and honest is hard and takes time.
Being open to the people around us does not mean we ignore the sins that we all have nor does it mean we lay blame and guilt where it is not ours to give. Being open to the people around requires that we are all aware that we are broken. We are all in need of Jesus and His forgiveness. When we become aware of that we can be open to walking with each other in our needs. In fact I believe that being open in this kind of way is what allows us to have authentic relationships.
Being open to the people around requires that we are all aware that we are broken.
Being involved in Sunday morning Bible Studies, Tables for 8, MOPS, 55 Alive, and other large group opportunities puts me in a place to meet people and build relationships in which I can dig deeper. Where I can share intimately.
Sharing our stories through the Story Cards also builds relationships. Even though I may not know who wrote each card knowing the stories and struggles of those around me helps to know I am not alone in my joys and struggles. And knowing I am not alone allows me to be connected and open. It allows and helps me be dependent on Jesus and what He is doing.
Then, slowly and overtime, I pray that you and I will find that we are more open to those around us. I pray that we become connected and that we know each other. I pray we will be able to answer the question, ‘Where is your brother?’ and hear it not as law and rather as invitation to caring and connection.
I pray we will be able to answer the question, ‘Where is your brother?’ and hear it not as law and rather as invitation to caring and connection.
Step out and hear the question, ‘Where is your brother?’ as an invitation to connect. Step out and hear the invitation to build relationships. Look for those around you, know who sits next to you, join Tables for 8 or Shalom in the Home to meet new people. Invite some people into your home or to your local coffee shop to read God’s word and ask where you see Jesus working in your life.
As we each do these little things we will find that we build a community, a church, a place, and a people that live out the value of openness to people and expression through authentic relationships and have a place to be naked and unashamed in Jesus!
My friend Heidi Goehmann is a writer, Deaconess, and licensed independent social worker who produces resources that advocate for women, mental health, and genuine relationships across life stages & cultures. Learn more about Heidi at I Love My Shepherd. She recently wrote a blog, and is actually the one who started me thinking about being naked and unashamed, that I felt touched on the topic at hand. I have asked if I could share it with you. Read Falling in Fear and Thankfulness to think more about our relationships and what Jesus says about them.