Sermon: Naked & Vulnerable

Genesis 3: 8-15

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20

I can’t tell you how excited I am to stand up here today and let you know that today we’re going to talk about getting naked, and not going with the crowd!

I’m going to give you a moment to let that sink in…

We just read in Genesis about Adam’s reaction when his eyes are opened, and he realises he and Eve are naken – they sow together fig leaves and make themselves clothes, and in verse 10, Adam responds to God:

“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Yesterday, I was giving Isabella a bath, and I can tell you, two-year olds are not ashamed of their bodies, and have nothing to hide.  If I would let her, I’m pretty sure Isabella would’t put on clothes at any time – she doesn’t understand what she needs them for. She struggles against you when it’s time to get dressed and routinely says “NO” when you say she needs to put clothes on.

More importantly, Isabella has no need to put up defenses and barriers between her and other people – she wears her heart on her sleeve. She laughs without reserve, she cries without reserve, and she simply shows every emotion that she is feeling.  She even manipulates without reserve and then laughs when you call her out on it, totally living in the present moment and without shame. When she’s uncertain, she lets you know, reaching out for support.  And if she gets scared, she seeks immediate shelter!

Take a moment – when was the last time you were truly authentic?  How long has it been since you allowed yourself to take off your armour and defenses, take down all those barriers you’ve built to protect yourself, and actually allowed yourself to live and feel?  We talk about “putting on our face”, rather than putting on make-up, or “keeping a poker face” instead of showing emotions.

How long has it been since you were naked and vulnerable before the people that matter the most in your live?  Most of us have lived for far too long in a society where naked has a sexual connotation, and we’ve forgotten that it also means to be open and discovered; it means to be honest, sincere and real.  Like Adam, we hide.  And then, when those who know us best get through that defense and find us, we give excuses like Adam did – it was HER fault, not mine.  That woman that YOU gave me, God, SHE made me do it!  It couldn’t possibly have been my fault!

In coaching we talk about secondary and primary emotions – and most of us are only in touch with the secondary ones, and fail to accept to even admit that below that emotion there’s another one that we’re too afraid to even acknowledge.  Many times our anger is simply a mask for impotence or pain and hurt; or our coldness and indifference is a mask for pain and vulnerability.  We put on a brave front, when we are really scared and insecure.  And we get so busy trying to convince the world that this is who we are, that we lose touch with ourselves and our true emotions.

All of this seeps over and into our Christian life and our relationship with God.  How many times do we try to keep on the mask, saying hollow prayers and just going through the motions?  When was the last time you were completely unarmed and defenseless before God?

Ephesians 6: 10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God.  I have a really simple question – have any of you ever tried to put on a suit of armour ON TOP of another suit of armour?  If you are already wearing your own suit of armour, how could you possibly put on the suit of armour that God has to offer?  I’d like to look at this quickly:

  1. You have a belt of TRUTH – when was the last time you had truth in your life? Blatant, honest truth?  Where you didn’t have to mince words and keep up appearances? When you were who you really are?  What if, instead of being protected by all these lies, you could be protected by truth? What difference would that make in your life today?
  2. There’s a breastplate of righteousness.  I don’t what your definition of righteousness is, but when I think of righteousness, I don’t only think of holiness or blamelessness – it’s all tied in there together with fairness, goodness, justice, honor, and virtue.  And once again I’m going to ask – how can you wear a breastplate of righteousness when you already are living a lie?  If there is no authenticity and you are not being true to yourself, what kind of goodness and fairness can you offer to others?
  3. Next we have your feet fitted with the gospel of peace.  Oh! That’s deep.  How many of you can say your feet are shod with peace and tranquility?  Or are you so busy, keeping moving and always in a hurry that you fail to truly have a moment for peace?  Why the busyness? What’s the hurry? Does it make you feel more important? Does it give you self worth? Are you hiding from other feelings and simply filling up the void and emptiness in your life with “I’m too busy”.  Is there room on your body to put on the gospel of peace on your feet? Or do you need to get naked in order to have this possibility?
  4. Then, you are to take up the shield of faith – faith in humanity, faith in yourself, faith in God’s goodness and greatness, living a life of conviction and constancy, with the certainty that “it is well with my soul”.  Did your faith get broken, like a child’s toy, when life’s struggles trampled on it?  When did your heart get broken, such that you could no longer believe?
  5. We’re called to put on the helmet of salvation – does it fit on your head? Or are there too many ideas and issues rolling around in there?  When was the last time you took time to accept that perhaps salvation doesn’t depend on you, but only on God’s grace!  Can you accept God’s grace and undying love for you?  Or are you once again, too busy, trying to earn it and deserve it with everything you are doing? Be still… and know that I am God! The helmet of salvation is simply knowing that it’s not all on you.  You aren’t in this alone.  And keeps your mind clear and free.
  6. We are each given the gift of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  Yes, there’s the Word of God in the Bible, but there’s also the word of God in our hearts.  Have you taken a moment to listen to what God would say to you today?  Are you busy fighting your battles alone, rather than with God’s help?  When you ask God for guidance in your daily battles, do you actually sit quietly and listen to God’s answer?  Or do you just plow ahead into “this is what I need to do” without listening?  Who else are you not listening to?  The words of wisdom and advice we can find in the Bible are only available if we are willing to listen.
  7. And finally, we have praying in the Spirit – when was the last time you let you spirit pray directly in tune with God’s spirit? Have you taken the time lately to quieten all the senses and stop the rush, to be able to allow your spirit to pray, rather than your mouth, your emotions, your thoughts, your brain?

When we stand before God, we are supposed to be naked! Not naked, afraid and ashamed – naked, unashamed and vulnerable, open, holding nothing back, masking nothing.

Are you so busy trying to show everyone that you have it all together, that you’ve started telling this to God as well? Living your life as if you don’t need God’s help, assurance and salvation?  God wants us to get real! To get real with him. Get real with each other.  Talk from the heart!

To quote Kevin Smith:

  • Stop fakin’ the funk!
  • Stop fuontin’ and Stuntin’!
  • Stop trying to be something that you’re not before God!
  • Stop coming before God with “Oh holy, most reverent, wise & eternal God”!

GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE YOU!  As terrifying as it may be, he sees through the whole facade – you can’t keep pretending.

God wants us to be free! And freedom starts with being who you really are, and then building from there!

Speaking for myself –

I am terrified of being vulnerable and opening up – my facade is cold and unfeeling – and God says – “be vulnerable, risk being hurt, and open up” – then, and only there, will you be able to truly show God’s love to others.

My facade is being “too busy”, and always having excuses – and God’s response is “take time to simply be still and know that I am God”, there’s peace there.

My facade is that I am self-centered and ego-centric – and God’s response is that God is love, and there’s more than enough to go around!  I don’t need to live looking out for myself and my own interests, because the lie that I have been told that “there’s not enough” to go around is simply that, a lie.  There is abundance! I can always afford to give, because God promises to each of us:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

God’s gift for us is that we are a special people – we don’t need to live like everyone else does.  We can be different and live in abundance.  But most of the time, we want to have a king to rule over us, like the people of Israel in Samuel – without realising the blessings that we will lose as a result.  Everyone else lives with barriers and facades, and so we should to?  I don’t think so – we are intended to live naked and exposed before God and men – covered in the armour that God has given to us, rather than the armour of our own making.

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