I heard a quote once. "Man was created in the image of God, and being a gentleman, Man returned the favor." I googled that phrase in hopes of being able to properly cite it for this post. It was attributed to everyone from Voltaire to Mark Twain. I couldn't tell you which one said it, but it holds immense amounts of wisdom. Think about these words for just a moment.
Following the fall, man began instantly aware of his own nakedness. He sought a means to cover his nakedness from God. They fashioned crude clothing from fig leaves. The nakedness he was trying to cover is not simply the unclothed physical body. All of us are keenly aware of our inability to measure up. No matter the scale, we are continually not making the grade. There is a deep felt failing that we feel. We are unable to even make the grade when we are the grader. That is the nakedness that we have to deal with even today. Adam was physically naked, but his own spiritual nakedness was a gaping wound in his spirit. He had to find some means to heal that wound.
There are rules in this world. Even as children we know these rules. Many of the rules of our human society have come from beyond human society, and not from religious scripture. Listen to toddlers play and you will understand what I mean. They will shout for fairness. No one has taught them fairness. They may very well be very unfair in their own dealings, and yet cry foul when their own self has been treated unfairly. Where have these rules come from? If there are rules, then there must be a rule maker.
It is the secret or not so secret violations of these fundamental rules that expose our own nakedness. This spiritual nakedness is something that ALL people deal with. It is not only people of faith that deal with it. I would argue that there is truly only one solution to this nakedness, but that is for another discussion. I want to briefly cover how men traditionally deal with our own nakedness.
1. Just pitch out the rule maker. If there is no rule maker, then my own rules are just as valid as your rules. What is wrong for you, then can not possibly be wrong for me. This is the least intellectually honest of all the responses. While claiming to be completely open-minded this idea closes the mind to any possibility of being in error. Deists are wrong and so no matter how faulty my argument, I am always right. A person here can not afford spiritually to be wrong. If they are wrong then there are responsibilities that they have neglected that they will have to account for.
2. I could create a God that I am comfortable with. Perhaps my God has a thing for human effort. He may have a list of responsibilities that he would call me too. If I am able to perform these particular rites, then I will be covered. I will have covered my own nakedness through my own effort. Men are not able to maintain the inertia to remain faithful to a call of this type. Man is prone to peaks and valleys in motivation. What becomes of my nakedness, when I am not motivated to maintain my practice? How do I address that? Does this devotion lead to any real change in the person that I am, or am I using window dressing to cover my own nakedness?
3. God is love. This is the most abused phrase in all of scripture. This is how many people create a God in their own image. We have a twisted perverted sense of love. We apply the principles of spoiled children to God. Love is acting in another person's best interest. Sometimes we should be told no. We are wicked, and left on our own we will make a disaster of our own lives. When we speak of God as love without mention of justice, then we make God an enabler. God would never tell us no right? I mean he is love! We use our twisted sense of love to cast aside the rules, in the name of God's love. This type of "love" is no love at all. It is a charade.
4. Perhaps we could create a God that has a hierarchy of sins. Our sins are not nearly as bad as the people around us right? There has to be more heinous ones right? When we think like this then we have missed the whole point. God is not seeking a people who will not commit a certain list of sins. God is seeking a people that will approach him in a manner that is worthy of him. The chief end of Man is to glorify God. The chief problem of sin is not that God hates it. He most certainly does hate it. It is our pride. As the everlasting God of the universe, he gets very upset when people try to take on his throne. When you look at it from God's perspective, there is really only one sin. Pride. All sins breaks down to pride. The serpent used our pride to tempt us to fall. We could be like God. That is the lie we were told. Well guess what? We are really crummy gods! There is only one.
Perhaps I have rambled a little bit. I am not sure. I suppose that the main thing that I would like to get across is that we have a spiritual nakedness that we are all trying to cover. We probably are not honest enough to admit that out loud. It still remains the truth. Everyone will deal with it in their own way. Whether they will toss out the rules to ease their conscience, or twist them, perhaps throw out justice and just rely on a love that is not really love at all. How have you dealt with your nakedness? I am certain it is there like a ulcer in the depths of your soul?
Sometimes I look at my faith, and I question it like a skeptic might. Could this be an invention of man? It is easy for me to laugh off that suggestion all together. There is a spiritual nakedness that man has desperately tried to cover. Why would he invent Christianity? The very first and most crucial point of Christianity is that man has absolutely no means to cover his own spiritual nakedness. It is a non-answer to a terribly vexing question. You will never be able to cover that nakedness. If you manage to through out the rules, then you will live without rules, and yet feel that wickedness deep inside you. Have you ever wondered why atheist and hedonist are so violently hateful toward people of faith? They know deep within their hearts that the rules have not gone anywhere! The rules remain.
Do you want to deal with it? Stop trying to be God. Stop trying to make a God you can live with. Let God be God, and let Him do what only he can do.