Without Grace, Paradise Is Hell

Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Eden is paradise not primarily because it is a place of great beauty and peace and bounty, but because it is a place of bare honesty and full acceptance.  All the beauty of Eden can give no relief or pleasure once evil slips into our hearts.    Shame comes from a sense of inadequacy and a fear of rejection and it makes us grovel or hide our true selves.  What must it be like to be comfortable with ourselves, right down to our skin, to have no need to cover up our true selves because we are wholly and unconditionally loved and accepted?

Adam and Eve had no warts.  They were good in every sense of the word, completely loveable.  They had no experience of unconditional love since they met all the conditions.  Their belovedness had never been challenged, so the depth of God’s love for them was untested and unrealized.  In a most profound way, we who are the farthest from that early innocence are the richest in grace.  We know God’s love more profoundly than our first parents.

But we struggle to trust His love.  Our shame drives all our perfectionistic efforts to prove ourselves worthy of God’s love, not realizing that this very effort only takes us farther away from grace.  We think freedom from shame comes from being without fault, that we can stop covering up once we have no failures to hide, but this is driving us deeper into legalism.  Our belovedness is not based on our goodness, which we can lose with one forbidden nibble, but on God’s goodness, which is unchanging and eternal.  May we learn to bare our souls before God and trust his grace to quench our shame.

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