Words can accurately provide us a vivid picture about beauty, love, despair, joy and yes even boredom. I can see the encounter Adam and Eve had with God in today’s first reading. They are hiding because of their sin. They are not only hiding from God, but they have tried to hide their own weakness by covering their nakedness. I can also see God knowing where they are hiding doing exactly what I did with my own kids while playing hide and seek. I pretended not to know where they were and by my own words let them believe they were well hidden. The truth is we can hide nothing from God as he knows our words and thoughts even before we form them.
If you want to understand how sin affects our relationship with God and his with us, just reflect on that story in the scriptures. We do attempt to cover up our sins by shifting blame onto others, by doing good works, by not responding to that voice of God which is always speaking to us. When we sin, we do move away from the one who knows our failure because we know we should have been more faithful. Then we compound the sin just as Adam and Eve did by failing to admit we were weak and failed to resist the temptation that is always there drawing us away from God.
Yet, God does not allow our weakness to keep us hiding for he reveals in his response to their sin his plan to restore us. He will cover our sin and invites us back into his presence and reveals his plan to achieve that through the woman who will bring salvation to the world.
It is all too easy for us to hear these familiar readings and not think they are about us and our relationship with God because they are about Adam and Eve. We do not allow them to penetrate our hearts and minds because they are history and not relevant to us today. I know most of what will be read from our pulpits today will not be remembered because we have failed to help you make sense of these readings for your own spiritual growth. Our task is to help you see these passages from scriptures are about you and God. Peter during a moment of revelation did point this out to us when he said in God’s words we find eternal life.
So here is a question for you to consider as you reflect on these readings – did God abandon Adam and Eve or condemn them for their weakness and failure? We know they were expelled from the garden, but did he abandon them or was he putting into place a plan so all us descendents of Adam and Eve would never have to hide because of our sinfulness.
The inspired Word of God tells us “God is patient with us not desiring any of us to perish” (2Pet.3:9). If God desires us not to perish shouldn’t we begin to focus on what God desires for us instead of trying to avoid hearing how disappointed God is in us? Should we hide or learn the lesson that it is time to stop hiding because of our sin and begin to understand God’s plan to restore us.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us “we hold this treasure” within us. What treasure and when was this treasure given to us? The treasure given to us is first and foremost the gift of salvation, the freedom from the penalty of our sin won for us by Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing gift make manifest to us by the Holy Spirit helping us to understand God’s forgiveness is a gift and that knowledge allows us to respond to God by seeking him instead of hiding from him.
If we can make that happen we become obedient to God’s will not because we are strong willed or find the discipline to ward off temptation. That happens because the Spirit begins its work transforming our hearts as God promised us he would do. This treasure makes us overflow with thanksgiving and will bring others to the knowledge of what God desires to give them.
However, we have we not treated the gift given to us by God as a treasure to be used for our sanctification. We strive to make up for our sinfulness by our good deeds or by our piety. Jesus tells us there is one thing that cannot be forgiven and that is by “grieving the Holy Spirit.” What grieves the Holy Spirit is us failure to allow that Spirit to equip us for holiness and give us all we need to understand salvation was won for us by Jesus Christ.
This attitude can be seen in Adam and Eve hiding from God instead of going to God for his embrace and restoration as we see in the story of the prodigal son. We have a simple choice offered to us in these reading today. We can allow God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to change us or we can strive to be the person God desires us to be through our own striving to meet his expectations. It should be a simple choice, but we seem to be unable to allow God to change us and instead cover our sins by clothing ourselves in righteousness symbolized by the fig leaf worn by Adam.
God created us to be his sons and daughters reflecting the image of his glory. God’s will for us is our holiness (1Tim. 4:3) and he has provided the means for us to be holy as he is holy by first sending Jesus to die for our sins and second by the gift of the Spirit to change our hearts.