You’ve had those dreams, haven’t you? Where you show up somewhere and everyone’s looking at you and you realize you’re completely and absolutely naked. You are terrified for those few seconds until you wake up and realize it was all a dream, and you make a mental note to remember to wear clothes that day.
This particular scenario might be especially frightening if the scene were a church. We’ve been taught to wear our Sunday’s best and sit up straight with our hands in our laps while the preacher talks about comfortable things like grace, and peace, and love. So to show up to church naked? That might be the worst of all. Everything you’ve looked in the mirror and told yourself might be confirmed by every beautifully clothed person around you; looking, judging. And you can’t hide, you can’t take it back–they’ve seen you and now they know.
Of course, even in the psychological world, a dream like this is not taken literally. It stems from a fear of vulnerability, which is, actually, exactly how God wants us to come to Him. Vulnerable. Naked.
In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit: the first sin of mankind against God. Genesis 3:8-10 says, “[Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.'”
Adam had no need to fear the Lord before he ate the forbidden fruit. He was simply God’s greatest creation and was living to glorify Him. But as soon as he sinned, he wanted to hide from God, “because [he] was naked.” It’s almost as if he could see his transgression tattooed on his skin and he became ashamed. He wanted to cover up, to not let anyone see–even himself.
Because of Adam and Eve, we are now born imperfect and broken. We need to be saved from the moment we take our first breath. God doesn’t create us as sinners, we become sinners. In Psalm 139:13-17 says, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.”
God knows each of us, intimately. His desire is that we would come to know Him intimately, too. Just as a marriage between a woman and a man works best when both individuals are honest with each other and let themselves be vulnerable, our relationship with God must be the same way. To accept Jesus Christ to be our savior, we must confess that we are sinners and need saving. We must be vulnerable before God and allow Christ to come into our hearts and make us clean again. And again. And again.
After Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and hide from God in the Garden of Eden, God comes looking for them. He calls out to him, “Where are you?” He calls them to come to Him naked and vulnerable with their sins on their skin. Like a good father should, he disciplined them and did not allow them in the garden anymore. But, first, he clothed them. Genesis 3:21 says, “And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.”
We don’t need to wear our Sunday’s best for God. We don’t need to work a million hours for a charity to make up for all the bad stuff we’ve done. We don’t need to do anything but come to God naked, and He will clothe us in forgiveness and mercy and grace and the sanctifying blood of His son, Jesus Christ.
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17
Something else to think about: Wouldn’t it be great if we could be the church that empathizes with each other when we show up in our sins? Then we stand by each other and lead one another to Christ through scripture and pray with one another and hold each other accountable so that we might not sin against God again? Wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t afraid of being vulnerable? If a non-believer came in our doors and wasn’t afraid to show up “naked”? What kind of church could we be?
In the literal sense, however, please come to church fully clothed. We are pretty into modesty around here 😉