I wonder if you’ve noticed. We live in a cruel world.
From playground bullies to the inner city gangs to oppressive governments, we lack no shortage of people who will not hesitate to inflict pain on others for their own personal pleasure or benefit.
What’s the prerequisite for being a recipient of such treatment? Weakness. Shortcoming. Lack of money. The inability to live up to societal standards.
I have a friend who works in the prison system. If an inmate shows even one iota of weakness, the others pounce upon him quicker than shoppers on a 75% discount!
I often marvel that we attempt to blame God for the existence of such evil. Our vision has been blinded by the tainted lens of a sin stained world. If you really want to see the heart of God, look back to Genesis 1 & 2. These two chapters of Scripture provide an awesome picture for us of God’s original design.
Genesis 2:25 stands out in particular: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. ” Genesis 2:25 (NASB)
According to God’s design Adam & Eve had no fear of exposure and exploitation. Theirs was a safe world.
Life couldn’t have been more different after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Suddenly naked meant something completely different—something associated with the fear of vulnerability.
Their response? Work! Fig leaves weren’t the best coverings, but with a bit of stitching they would serve their purpose—until they dried out or caught on a tree branch that is. Does this type of futile effort sound familiar?
We don’t know what happened to the literal tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but we continue to eat of its fruit—and we continue to work ever so hard to cover our inadequacies in order to avoid the pain of shame and oppression.
But this presents a major problem! The kingdom of God operates by grace, which we obtain through a humble faith. Our constant work of self-coverfication (is this a word?) undermines our ability to walk with God and abide in His grace.
Do you want to live a victorious Christian life? You can forget it if your top priority is to hide your weaknesses from others. This is why a loving Christian community is so important. We all need to have people around whom we can trust, a bully-free environment where we can let down our guard.
I wonder what our churches would look like if we stopped working so hard to keep up our images of perfection and made a little more effort to strengthen and encourage those around us? Just a thought.