They 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.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” (NRSV)
Whenever I hit a ball over the rather cranky neighbour’s fence, my first instinct was to run and hide. I didn’t want to face his hostility. I had erred and didn’t want to face the consequences. Which is pretty well what Adam and Eve did when they disobeyed God.
They had been seduced into believing the lies of the serpent: eating that bit of delectable fruit was the key to a whole new life. It was, but not the sort of new life they anticipated. It was a life of blame and shame.
The blame was in their ‘passing the buck’. Wrong had been done, but it was someone else’s fault. A response that echoes down to today when we are all too ready to blame society or the government or our family for our mistaken choices. By avoiding any personal responsibility, we forfeit the opportunity to learn from mistakes we make.
The shame was in their hiding from God. The former easy closeness had gone. They knew they had ignored his counsel and didn’t want to be answerable to him. So it was that a pleasant walk in the cool breeze of the garden became an uncomfortable and unwanted encounter.
Only in Jesus do we resolve the blame-and-shame game. Jesus took the consequences of our disobedience on himself and only as we admit our need of his mercy can we be free of shame. Accepting the blame for our wrongdoing enables us to avoid the threatened shame. Jesus makes it possible for God to clothe our spiritual nakedness with his grace.
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