The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, Part 17
Welcome to the Training Table that is carefully concocted to help us ingest the Mission of Feast of the Heart:
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth of the Bible.
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christian living in word and deed.
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment.
The Most Damnable Dilemma of All: How to Discard the Fig Leaf of Shame
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:6-7).
“What is most personal… (Soren Kierkegaard)
“As you might guess from the introduction you read thus far, as a young child, I endured some very painful wounds to the heart. Criticism, shame, and a dreadful sense of anonymity in my own home deeply damaged my heart, spirit, and life. A “perfect storm” of circumstances set up my heart to experience darkness and despair from an early age. It’s clear that my parents did not set out deliberately to pummel my heart and spirit, but having been raised in similar, yet unique, environments, they were incapable of making different choices in raising my two sisters and me.
Hiding under the dark, quiet basement steps protected me from many assaults on my heart and spirit. In adulthood, my continuing tendency to hide, respond to challenges in silence, or seek refuge in isolation, destroyed many relationships. Adam hid from God after he had sinned. I had to hide as well, because I couldn’t bear to come out from behind the bushes to the “wounded and wounding parent,” yet alone to God. I was too ashamed, even though I couldn’t name it as shame, or trace it back to its source within my heart for many years.
Foreign or repugnant as it may seem to us, ever since the Fall, all human beings have had to “fashion fig leaves” to cover our shame, to whitewash over the enmity we carry in our hearts toward the Creator and Sustainer, who with such grace and love breathed life into our being.
But once we have removed God as the centerpiece of our heart’s origin, duty, and desire, lesser gods (idols) of all sorts rush into the vacuum created by the void. Idols destroy the heart. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14; see also Exodus 20:1-7).” (The Weeping, the Window, the Way, John Dozier—emphasis added)
“… is most universal.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
“I am coming to realize that one of my most besetting sins is my sense of shame. It has been my constant companion since my childhood. It hides in my heart like a dark stowaway, like a hidden wayfarer, whispering lies that confound my faith in Christ. In double-minded doubt, I depart from Christ and continually employ my gifts as a way to compensate for my shame. Just like my first parents—I reach for the nearest fig leaf to cover myself in vain. But gifts are not enough. Indeed, nothing is enough. Fig leaves fall apart in even the smallest storm. A gentle brush of wind is enough to disrobe me. Yet, though the wind of shame is greater than my feeble, fig-leaf vestments, thanks be to God, it is not greater than the Cross of My Redeemer. Jesus died to cover my shame. He has given me His name. His righteousness robe cannot be removed. In Him, the darkness cannot find me; for the cross of Christ will always hide me. I know theses truths inside my head, but how quickly my heart forgets.” (Tim Melton, Sacrosanct Gospel)
The Only Person, Plan, and Power in the Universe to Reverse the Most Damnable Dilemma of All?
The Plank of the Faith: Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
“We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works. (Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:6-8)
And the same apostle says that we are justified “freely” or “by grace” through redemption in Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:24) And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.
That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God’s approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.
In fact, if we had to appear before God relying—no matter how little—on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.
Therefore, everyone must say with David: ‘Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.’” (Psalm 143:2) (Article 23, The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561—emphasis added)
To what extent, if any, have I become aware of “fig leaves” of various kinds, acting as a cover for my shame—some common to all fallen man, some very personal for me—being a controlling, inhibiting, debilitating factor in my life?
If I were to admit that, in some way, shape, or form, attempts to cover my shame—“fig leaves” of control, anger, intellect, perfection, avoidance, stoicism, workaholism, ”hyper-joie de vivre”, etc—were undermining my life, where would I go to begin to uncover the problem?
In what ways has The Justification of Sinners, the love of God in Christ (His act of salvation, His many promises to never leave or forsake me, His assurances of no condemnation, His impartation of the Holy Spirit) been the “fig leaf defoliating” I most desired and needed—and left me unafraid, humble, and urgent to take on every moment of life as an agent of Christ’s redeeming grace and truth?
Get jazzed about your Justification today by revealing it—in some way, shape, or form—to everyone you encounter!