"Then 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; so I hid myself.' And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked?'".
Genesis 3:9-11 "Who told you that you were naked?" This is a deeply profound question and one that our culture is struggling to answer. Or rather, our culture is giving an answer and we are struggling to be okay with it, much of the church included. "Who told you that you were "a pervert", a "dirt bag", a "thief", a "liar", a "snake"? In other words, who is your accuser? Many times, when we receive these accusations, we can point to someone in the church or some Christian doctrine or moral and say, "There! There are my accusers!" And the world will say, "Well, they are a bunch of haters and bigots who shouldn't be allowed to say such things." And then they campaign to have us silenced in the name of "justice, fairness, equality, respect, acceptance," etc. In other words, the world's way of responding to accusations is by offering counter-accusations. One moments reflection will recognize the cyclical and absurd nature of this scenario, though it is how most of us respond to accusation, most of the time. We take a "shoot the messenger" approach. But in God's good world and in God's good purposes, even the accuser has his role to play, especially when he is right. Besides, if it is wrong to accuse people of things of which they are guilty, is it not also wrong to offer counter accusations? In the story of Adam and Eve, who was it that told them that they were naked? The answer is no one. At least, no human being. The reason that we tend to hate our accusers is not because they are wrong but because deep down in our gut we know that they are one hundred percent right. We don't want them to talk about our nakedness. That is why we are wearing fig leaves to begin with. We don't want to be exposed for who we really are because we are afraid of rejection. And rightly so. Does God not have every right to be angry with us? Have we not done the things of which we are accused? Accusation is not a crime, it is a job. Prosecuting lawyers exist because there are victims who need to be defended. But the trouble with "the accuser" or "the satan", is that he or it, doesn't care whether or not it speaks the truth or the whole truth but simply that you are accused and condemned. But the One who is called "the way, the truth, and the life" is concerned with only the truth. The One who judges you is concerned with only the truth. And the truth is that we are guilty and the truth is that our judge is merciful. Our problem is that we often listen to the accuser as though he is also the judge. But though the accuser will claim to speak for the judge, he is a liar and the father of lies and speaks out of his own perversion. Our righteous judge will listen to what the accuser has to say only to the extent that it is true, and in that place of truth, our guilt and God's mercy meet in redeeming love and grace. This is the amazing story of Adam and Eve. God had warned them that in the day that ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would "surely die." Well, Adam and Eve did eat from that tree and they hid from God in their shame. God had to come looking for them. I don't know about you but when I was a kid and I had done something wrong, if I hid from my parents when they were looking to administer justice, the sentence would have been all the worse. But when God finds Adam and Eve, all He wants is the facts: "what have you done?" There are consequences for Adam and Eve's behavior but God does not kill them. In fact, God chooses to serve them by making them a cover to free them from shame. God makes clothing for Adam and Eve. Why didn't God kill Adam and Eve? Did God not mean what he said about eating from that tree? No, He certainly did mean it. Adam and Eve died that day. That was a direct result of giving into temptation. But God did not kill them, because God never wanted to kill them. The death that Adam and Eve experienced was not the response of an angry, vindictive, God but simply the direct result of their own behavior. If you hold your breath for too long, you will pass out. If you bend your leg the wrong way, it will break. And if you eat that fruit, you will die. So it is not God's desire to kill you. It is not God's desire to punish you. It is not God's desire to condemn you. If the accuser has something to say about you, God will hear him, but God will only receive what is true. And when He does, that truth will meet the truth of God's mercy and you will go free, so long as you too can agree with the truth of your guilt and ask for mercy. The accuser is a wild liar, but even liars, especially those who regularly practice lying, sometimes speak partial truth. But while the accuser has his role to play in the purposes of God, he is not on God's side. The accuser accuses God! And the accuser fills our heads with lies to keep us from coming to God. The accuser likes only to steal, kill and destroy. But God has come that we might have life and have it abundantly. So where are you? Are you hiding, accusing, or covered with the truth and grace of Jesus? The choice is a matter of life and death.