Still Sewing Fig Leaves?
by Pastor Gene
HAPPY REFORMATION DAY! 500 years ago today Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg rocking the Christian world to it’s core, purifying its doctrines, and (eventually) making the Bible available to all, scholar and ploughman alike!
So, let’s get to some personal reformation …
Recently Catherine Parks, author of A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day, wrote an insightful piece that speaks to idea of Reformation as a Way of Life. She wrote:
“I’ve been trying something new lately, and it’s revolutionizing my life. I’m being honest with God. Maybe that sounds ridiculous. How could I be any more honest than I already was? I mean, He knows everything. He sees me as I am. You can’t get more honest than that.
But I’ve realized I’m still so much like Adam and Eve in the garden. I’m running frantically, trying to cover up my shame by haphazardly sewing together fig leaves … Look, I know it’s silly. I’ve been a Christian for years and years, and yet I’m still running around in fear of being exposed. But now I’ve learned I’m free to be me and just let it all out. I’m praying as though my soul is naked …
When we give voice to our complaints, our worries, our bitterness, or our fears, we aren’t telling God anything He doesn’t already know. What we are doing is laying ourselves bare before Him, holding nothing back, and asking Him to work. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us—because of Christ, we are continually with God. He is with us, and His Son is pleading our case before the Father. Like David said, “God is our refuge.”
The Holy Spirit also works by showing us the beauty of Christ. This is the kind of beauty that makes all earthly things look dull and dim. This revelation of Christ, seen in the Bible and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, causes us to say, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
Worldly sorrow and sin will not last. Our flesh and hearts may fail, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73) …
This week I’ve been telling Him, ‘I’m really upset with that person, even though I know it’s wrong.’ And ‘I really, really don’t want to do this right now. Help me, Jesus.’ And ‘God, I don’t feel loving toward my family at this moment. Actually, I’m really super angry. Please, love them through me. I’m messing it up!’
The beauty is that I don’t have to cover myself with fig leaves anymore. God has covered me with Christ. He doesn’t look at me and see my poor ability as a seamstress. He looks at me and sees His sinless, righteous Son. … Have you experienced the freedom of just being honest with Him?”
This is a great challenge, Right?
All true reformation begins with honesty and without it nothing will change. God wants to take what He already knows about us and what we know about ourselves and have a conversation about it.
But honesty can be really hard. If we dare to look at ourselves too closely, we might not like everything we find.
For consideration . . .
- Does Park’s new-found quest to get honest with God resonate with you? Why or why not?
- Isn’t it interesting – especially later in life – to find ourselves still hiding things from God? We’d all agree that He knows and sees everything, of course. But actually talking to Him about it is something else again! To do that, to admit the uncomfortable parts about us, is asking God to change those things, to help us do something about it. And you know what I think? I think sometimes we don’t talk to God about them because we don’t really want to change them. So, what have you been covering in fig leaves rather than honestly talking to God about?
- Consider Parks’ statement, “God has covered me with Christ. He doesn’t look at me and see my poor ability as a seamstress. He looks at me and sees His sinless, righteous Son.” What are your thoughts about that?
- Remember, all true reformation begins with honesty and without it nothing will change. The very essence of confession is God saying, ‘Look, I know what’s going on with you and you know what’s going on with you. Now, talk to me about it so that I can make you more like My Son,’ So then, honesty time. Strip away the veneer and ask yourself: What conversation that I need to have with the Father have I been avoiding? Have it today!
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Deep and penetrating – yes many questions – thank God He sees His Son and not my ugly sin.
Love this thought-provoking line: “I think sometimes we don’t talk to God about them (our sinful habits) because we don’t really want to change them.” It cuts so deep!
“God has covered me with Christ. He doesn’t look at me and see my poor ability as a seamstress. He looks at me and sees His sinless, righteous Son.” This is both freeing and convicting at the same time. How very merciful is the God we serve when, through all of our filth, he still sees in us his perfect son!? Even when we try to cover it up and try to hide it or worse, not even acknowledge it, he still waits for us because he so desperately wants us to draw closer. Makes me WANT to come clean with him, for him. And then the honesty really is freeing.
ty for your comment, Anne, the last part where you write:…He still waits for us because He so desperately wants us to draw closer Makes me WANT to come clean with him, for him. And then the honesty is really freeing.” He really DOES want us to come up to the next level with Him. He’s not satisfied for us to stay the same. He wants us to come up and see the “view” bc it’s “better up there!”(I borrowed a quote from my friend on this one)
I long for that view!!!!!
I find that I don’t have trouble talking to God about these things, knowing that He knows me and still loves me anyway. I think my real trouble is allowing Him to actually change me. When I fall I pour my heart out and repent, asking him to change that part and make it new, then I fall again and realize I’m still not actually letting Him change me.
It’s such a struggle Adam! Yesterday I talked about how I struggle with it. I am so thankful we have a patient Abba!!!!
So right on,Everyday I get my feet on the floor and the the battle is the Lord’s!!Amen?? VB
It seems that I’ve been “wearing fig leaves” my whole life… trying to be, what I perceive, others need or want me to be; the “perfect” daughter, sister, friend, mother, wife, employee, pastor’s wife, example to others, … the list goes on and on. It’s a tough thing to overcome, always trying to “measure up” or please others. I’m working on just being. Being still. Being in His presence. Being in His word. Being closer to Him. Being about HIS business…. Being who Christ made me to be. Imperfections and all. I know He will use ALL of it – “warts” and all, for HIS GLORY!
Yes, Karen! You could be describing me, too. I’m working on being still…not an easy task! Luckily, we have the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, to guide us to still waters. Trying to measure up or to be who others want or need us to be is an exhausting task (good time to be still, no?). I need to remember that I am my heavenly Father’s daughter first and foremost. “Warts” and all!
My first thoughts in reading this blog are some things I have been thinking about for a very long time. In fact, I shared this idea in our first group meeting last Thursday. When Adam and Eve first fell in the garden, we saw the first instances of shame and then blame. Their “eyes were opened” to their nakedness (Gen.8), and their initial reaction was to cover that nakedness with fig leaves, and hide from God. But God, of course, already knew what happened. He rhetorically asked them, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat (Gen. 3:!1)?” Adam then blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (Gen. 3:12-13). God then provided the first instance of a blood sacrifice for the covering of shame (sin) in providing animal skins in place of the fig leaves. Man has been hiding from God since that very first act of disobedience. And keep in mind, that was only ONE sin! Think of the countless sins that we all commit that we take for granted and believe that we can hide from God. It’s unimaginable! What I find most appalling, however, is how man, in all his arrogance, has taken what initially was a covering for shame, and turned it into today’s near $3 trillion fashion industry!
Steve you are a funny guy…What would women do if they couldn’t shop for clothes.. LOL
OK brother Steve, while I agree with just about everything in your response, I do love a new dress…LOL! The most powerful changes in my life, and the most powerful of moves of God in my life, followed a period where I came before God daily and prayed, “Change me!” I really appreciate what you said, Steve, that we have been trying to hide our sin from God from the very beginning. God deals gently with me, he lets out the rope a little at a time. If I really saw the mess that I was, I am certain I would give up. That REAL conversation with God is so vital–let’s face it–HE KNOWS! And when I talk with him and just bare my soul, as ugly as it is, I know He is pleased. When I come into God’s presence, sometimes it is with adoration and praise. Other times it is straight to confession and then…help! He always meets me–I experience that help when I cry out for it. Like my own dad, he is just waiting for me to ask. I get to the end of that scary day when all I could ask was, get me through this, and I see God’s provision. His faithfulness is amazing. I ask again today, “Change me!”
Thank you for your comment, Michelle. I should say that my own reply was more about identifying the dilemma than it was in recognizing the solutions. We can all thank God for His graciousness and patience with us, and especially for His ultimate provision of Jesus Christ, our great advocate before His throne! I would also add that our thinking we can hide from God is as much an offense as the offense we think we’re hiding!
Further to my thought (and I know you meant this humorously, Michele), we all DO like nice clothes. But this is what the world does best. It takes something that should have deeper spiritual meaning, or is a spiritual consequence, and turns it into a lie that it can peddle. To point, what was once a covering for shame is now an adornment! I’m not offering an alternative. And perhaps we can all be forgiven for having bought into it, being as far removed from the original transgression as we are over many, many generations. Perhaps it’s enough that if we are born again saved, and taught by the Holy Spirit, that we at least know the lie from the truth, even if we can’t fully extricate ourselves from it. After Cain killed Abel (the first murder in human history), God condemned him to be a wanderer on the earth, and put a mark on him that no one should touch him. So, even in his guilt, God had a plan for Cain. And, as rebellious as Cain was, the first thing he did was to settle down in one place, violating God’s decree. And yet, God permitted it. It was through the “tribes of Cain” and his descendants that all “worldliness” took root, which includes all future industry on the earth. And it’s all part of God’s Divine Plan. So, I ask, who are we to argue?
I like your thought of “dressing up the outside,” Kerin. Interestingly, one of the Greek words that is often translated ‘world’ in the New Testament, is ‘kosmos’ (or,cosmos). It’s also where we get the word ‘cosmetic.’ which is an apt word for describing how we put up facades (and disguise ourselves) before others…and God!
Right you are, Pastor Dave!