Sermon on Genesis 3:8-12 – Stop Hiding
We need to set up the scene. This immediately follows creation. God gave Adam and Eve one instruction—one singular rule—and this passage happens as a direct result of them failing to follow that rule.
We cannot ignore that; they broke the rule, and that indiscretion had consequences. Remember what the passages says they did: they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, giving them awareness of everything, including sin and shame.
Actions have consequences. They gained this knowledge and they could not unlearn it. They suddenly had to be aware of their bodies, their thoughts, their desires, and how selfish they became. They had to be aware of things they could desire, things that would harm them and damage their relationships.
Adam and Eve had acute and intimate awareness that they broke the one rule, that God had a reason for that one rule, and the consequences they would suffer for breaking that one rule. Their knowledge of shame and desire and brokenness makes them feel shameful and broken. Something changed, and they now felt the need to cover and hide themselves.
Adam and Eve sinned, permanently and irreparably breaking their relationship with God and with each other, and they had painful awareness of that.
No matter how you read the creation story—six literal days, six periods of time, or an allegory for evolution—the story ends the same: humans became aware, enabling them to sin and desire things that will destroy relationship. Adam and Eve failed and every further relationship suffered because of it.
They hid their shame.
We do not like to fail. When we do something bad, we often become like children. Remember your childhood when you broke something and very carefully placed it just so appeared unbroken until someone else touched it, hopefully placing the blame for breaking the thing on them instead of you? Or maybe for the married klutzes in the room, last week or last month when you did not want your spouse to realize the thing broke—like a knick-knack that has no real value but you cannot replace because you bought it states away on a vacation—so you just place it just so and hope it does not come up for a decent amount of time?
When things get messed up—often without true fault—we act like children and try to hide it out of shame. When we do something wrong and stand at fault—like, say, eating from a tree that will give you all knowledge without considering if you want all knowledge—the shame usually trumps our willingness to vulnerably admit something broke, a either trinket or a relationship.
Sometimes hiding works on Earth. The person you hide from suffers the same state of imperfection you do. We do not always know when someone else does something wrong to us or in a way that affects us.
God knows. Adam and Eve hoped they could hide, ignoring the fact that the creator of that Tree of Knowledge that gave them all the knowledge they wished they could erase from their minds or give back also created them and would have to know everything and see everything to create a Tree of Knowledge.
God knew Adam and Eve messed up, and they all knew Adam and Eve’s actions broke their relationship.
In Adam and Eve’s case, hiding simply exasperated the situation; they added lying and deception to the problem and did not give God the opportunity to possibly fix it. In our relationships, hiding has the same result; it simply further breaks the relationship, especially once everyone knows the truth but even before when it remains a secret.
I believe we live in relationship with God, and that relationship facilitates the healing God gives. God can heal everything, but God healed us not through waving his arms and making everything okay but through Jesus walking amongst us and having relationship with us before giving himself for us. Without relationship, the healing from Jesus does not happen.
Relationship requires vulnerability and honesty. We cannot expect healing from God if we do not lift the parts of our relationship we broke and our wounded hearts up to God to vulnerably ask for healing. God knows all—God sees our fig leaves and sees us hiding behind the trees—but God heals us through relationship and we cannot have relationship if we continue to hide.
You cannot have relationship if you do not vulnerably admit your brokenness and weakness, either with God or with each other.
This must go beyond selfishly asking God for forgiveness to avoid condemnation. We live in relationship with each other. We have friendships, romantic partnerships, the guiding relationship between parents and children, and life as a family in the Body of Christ. Those relationships cannot heal if we do not confess the actions that wound each other and address the wounds we create. These relationships exist between broken people instead of a broken creation to a perfect creator, and we can only offer imperfect and incomplete healing apart from God, but any healing requires the same vulnerability. We cannot heal in hiding.
We need to start confessing for real. The liturgy feels nice and sounds nice, but if we do not lift our broken hearts to God, we cannot get the healing we need. If we say sorry out of obligation but will not willingly and vulnerably name our misdeeds, especially when no one confronts us, the wounds our misdeeds create will not heal.
You are broken. You have wounded multiple people. You have broken relationships with each other and with God.
Confession and repentance can provide opportunity for heal; hiding and claiming innocence does nothing but exacerbate the wounds.
Do you want healing or bigger wounds?
Confess for healing, to God and to each other. Amen.