and naked shall I return there;
the LORD gave,
and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Well, if we have nothing else, at least we have our birthday suits— thank God.
You can’t go down the highway or open a magazine or watch video or do much of anything at all without seeing humans showing off at least limited portions of their birthday suits.
And somehow, that’s different from seeing a dog or horse or fish wearing only what God gave it to wear. That’s just “natural”— right ?
Let’s not even get started with the way some people put human-type clothing on their dogs, cats, chimpanzees, and so forth.
Nor must we get started, discussing all of the incredible variety of ways that humans clothe themselves.
This week, our lessons from the Bible invite us to consider what it means, that God created humans in God’s own image, male and female.
Some of you who read this will immediately think of the controversial matters relating to sexuality and gender which have filled the news in recent years. I did.
But then I sat back and meditated on these things a little more. It occurred to me that God already sees all of the possibilities and all of the realities that we may call “human.” You and me and everybody else: God knows us from the tips of our toes to the tips of our hair (let’s not get started on what humans do with their hair, either— OK?).
God knows us so naked we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves. You know that place on the back side of you that is hard for you to see, even if you stand in a certain way using mirrors ? Yep— God totally knows that spot. If you saw a photo of that spot, you probably wouldn’t recognize it as a part of you: you never see it ! But God knows exactly how it is a part of you.
When two humans are intimate with each other, each may allow the other to experience their hidden selves. That may include the parts of their bodies which are normally hidden from other humans. It also includes their naked personalities— stripped of at least some of the facades that we humans normally put on for public viewing.
Intimacy with another human is dangerous. The other person might take advantage of my vulnerability! The other person might take more than I want to give. My partner might react badly to experiencing who I am underneath it all. Or I might not like what I see of my partner ! You are probably all too aware, these matters can get people so wound up, they lose whatever civilized veneer they ordinarily maintain; they lose their cool. Things can get too hot in a hurry. Dangerous.
Yes, and intimacy with God is dangerous, too.
As Peter Green put it, (in the song, "Oh Well")
Now, when I talked to God I knew He'd understand.
He said, “Stick by my side ‘n’ I'll be your guiding hand.
Don't ask Me what I think of you--
I might not give the answer that you want Me to.”
In our prayer life, we have the heavenly opportunity to know God through the Holy Spirit. One thing we learn when we get serious about it: we learn some of what God sees in us….
Do you find that scary ? I do. Also, wonderful….
Spiritual people down through the centuries have described union with God in terms that could make us blush; terms more commonly used for intimate human relations.
Jesus is not ashamed to call [us] his siblings, saying,
“I will proclaim Your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise You.”
- Hebrews 2:11-12
(You might find this song entertaining: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZVQmJVXDkk )