Naked and Afraid
What makes this Sunday unique is its placement in the church’s calendar. Today marks the first Sunday of Lent. In this spiritual journey, Christians begin a forty-day exodus with God into the wilderness of temptation.
In the gospels, we read about Jesus' public ministry and how he embodied Lent through his decision to journey in solitude into the wilderness for forty days and nights. His spiritual retreat was centered on disconnecting himself from the world so that we could foster his relationship with God, his Father.
Truly, Lent, in its essence, is about a season of reflection, repentance, and renewal toward God and separation from what’s worldly. It is a beautiful reality where we become more like Jesus and less like the world. I know it would do us some good if we genuinely disconnected for the next forty days to foster a more extraordinary relationship with the Lord - perhaps we can cut out the screen.
Did you know that, on average, the typical American views just around three hours of TV every single day. The majority of which is live programming. Which is why there are loads of television shows to steam and watch on demand.
On the Discovery Plus network, if you view their show lineup, you’ll notice one of their television shows, Naked and Afraid. Each episode chronicles the lives of two survivalists who meet for the first time naked and are given the task of surviving a stay in the wilderness for 21 days.
I couldn’t imagine being outside naked even for one day, let alone twenty-one days! It takes two weirdos to agree to something like that. I would say our society is becoming stranger by the hour.
And yet, we know from the Creation Story in the book of Genesis that God places our primordial parents in the garden of Eden, who was created naked, but not afraid for at least at the beginning of the narrative. What would cause this to change? Was it spending twenty-one days together? I highly doubt it.
But on a serious note, we should beg the question concerning this message, “How does one keep themselves from falling into temptation? Hold onto this, for in God’s Word; we will discover how Lent and being “Naked and Afraid” all connect.
If you have brought your bible to church, I would ask that you open and turn the book of Genesis. We will be in verses fifteen through seventeen in chapters two and three, verses one through seven. Let’s read them.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
What remarkable freedom God granted to Adam! “You can go anywhere you like, but remember your divine vocation. You were made to “work and keep” the garden.” God created humanity to work and maintain God’s good creation.
However, distractions sprung around the corner - the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What would it be like to have this temptation around?
French writer Voltaire once said, “Work keeps us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.”
Indeed, the distraction of the tree is nothing as long as Adam continues to “work and keep” his mission alive. Everyone is naked and brave at his point in the story, so we jump to chapter three.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
The crafty serpent comes to Eve and begins to tempt her to partake in the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
• "Did God really say?" - deny God's word (v.1)
• "You will not surely die" - deny God's judgment (v.4)
• "You will be like God" - deny God's authority (v.5)
Once Eve took the fruit, she gave it to her husband, and then suddenly, their eyes were opened to the experience of good and evil.
Naked and Afraid
Now each couple is “Naked and Afraid,” seeing each other differently than before. The guilt consumes Adam and Eve, and they begin covering themselves, hoping to rid the feelings of shame and isolation. They attempt to protect themselves with a sew fig.
We can empathize with Adam and Eve. They fell into temptation, breaking their relationship with each other and, most importantly, with God. But why did this happen in the first place?
What was the divine vocation of humanity? Yes. to “work and keep” creation. Where was the serpent located? Besides the tree. How else do you talk about it if you’re not standing beside the forbidden tree?
They fell from grace because both turned away from their divine vocation. They rejected their purpose in life and became distracted by temptations.
Clothing the Shame
I understand we didn’t make their mistake, but trust me. You and I have fallen into the same temptation by turning away from our primary purpose in life and giving ourselves over to worthless distractions. Distractions that make us feel naked and ashamed, and feeling hopeless.
We must remember that God did not leave Adam and Eve “Naked and Afraid” even after disobeying his commandment. His love was still with them, even when they chose distraction over their vocation. God covered their shame with animal skins.
The same applies to us; God doesn’t leave us naked and afraid when we choose evil. Instead, if we’re willing to let it go and believe in him, God declares he will baptize us in his Son (Gal 3:27). In our baptism, God clothed our shame with his Son. No longer are we “Naked and Afraid,” for we are dressed in forgiveness and righteousness. We are made new by the faithfulness of Christ, who overcame every temptation and who endured nakedness and shame upon the cross. His suffering became our covering. Hence, God will not leave us in the fallen condition but joyfully restores us through his death, burial, and resurrection.
Truly, God’s grace is greater than your distraction and disobedience. He is calling us back during Lent to recommit to our vocation.
Proposition: Every temptation is a crafty distraction from keeping us from God's work.
Instruction: You must return to God's original purpose for your life.
Situation: God requires you to distance yourself from the experience of evil.
• eating too much
• spending too much,
• venting on social media
• gossiping, feeling jealous
• viewing pornography
• lying or cheating
• abusing alcohol.
Motivation: God understands that we feel naked and afraid when we sin. He wants what is best for you. Not to live in isolation and regret, but in him fulfilling your divine purpose.
Enablement: You can escape temptation by occupying yourself in God's presence and his sacred mission.
Returning to the Sacred
During this season of Lent, let’s reconnect with God in the wilderness of temptation. There are no distractions that the Holy Spirit can overcome in you. Give it to him, live for the glory of God and you’ll know what it will be to be truly clothed in Christ and brave! Jesus Christ is with us through it all.