Oct. 4 Scriptures at First Mennonite Church. Gen. 2:18-24, Ps. 8, Heb. 1:1-4, 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16, Eph 2:11-22
Undress for success! Sounds laughable doesn't it? But I wonder.
When we dress ourselves, it is a form of protection. It is necessary armor to keep us from freezing in the cold or burning in the sun, to hide us from negative attention, to present an identity (protecting from misconceptions)...
Being naked is being vulnerable, nothing is hidden and there are no defenses against attack. We have to fully trust the caregiver, the doctor, our partner, whoever is with us in that moment.
Metaphorically, I like the concept of undressing for success. It's only when I let my defenses down, give up my excuses and accusations and explanations, that I can truly hear the point of view of someone else. I still might not agree with them, but at least I have a chance to understand and I do not inflict hurt on them because I've dropped my weapons too-I give them no reason to wear their own armor.
The Genesis 2 passage stops at verse 24, instead of reading 25 which says; "and the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." Did the verse get left out because of the reference to nakedness? I think this is a crucial verse. They were completely open, trusting, and unprotected against each other and God. It is a metaphor for the perfect loving and open relationship that is the ideal at creation. No one needs protection, no one has anything to hide, both trust in God.
Ephesians 2 is a passage that also talks about what the ideal relationship might look like among people who want to follow God.. The topic is unity, emphasizing that now, through Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles are wholly acceptable to God and in relationship with each other.
I find it fascinating that the discussion of the sign of inclusion (no longer necessary) is circumcision. This was a physical sign that the person (male of course) belonged to God. The ironic thing is that it was a hidden sign, you can't see it unless the man is naked! In this passage I see a people being set free from secrets. In Christ, all people have access to God, there are no longer people who are "in" and people who are "out". The dividing walls are broken down and we can see each other for what we all are; children of God.
In Christ there are to be no walls between us, and no hidden ideas of in and out. We are "stripped" of the protections of barriers and encouraged toward peace, trust, love, and joint membership in one body-God's people. It is a metaphorical undressing. The community is made strong by it's unity, by it's ability to be vulnerable to each other, to be open and without secrets that do harm to each other.
Jesus made himself completely vulnerable, naked and defenseless. He died because he would not put on the armour of argument, or use the power that was his, or even run away. He made himself perfectly vulnerable to his people and perfectly open to the redeeming and resurrecting hope of God.
Question: What keeps you from being open and vulnerable to others and to God? What "armor" are you wearing that you could be better off without?