When You Need to Cover Nakedness

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“And don’t build an altar that requires steps; you might expose yourself when you climb up”.

Exodus 20:26

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

While I lived in the SOS Ministry house in the Mission District of San Francisco a dear brother taught me this principle.  Living in Christian community is a really wonderful thing.  But it also could be a challenge at times.  What Michael shared, allowed my understanding to grow to meet the need of the moment.

The principle is this:  

We are called to cover up our brother’s nakedness.

 Throughout the scripture “being naked, or nakedness” is always a shame.  It comes welded to the concept of being vulnerable or exposed to the sight of everyone else.  It also carries the idea of sin; it is sin that everyone can see; it is very obvious.

For those of us who often sin, we evolve the idea of keeping a lid on it, and being secretive with it.  There will be people who will never know.  Often sex sin, drug and alcohol sin, both are kept hidden from view of family and friends, and the Church.

Noah and His Nakedness, Genesis 9

noah1“Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard. When he drank wine made from his grapes, he became drunk and lay naked in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, looked at his naked father and told his brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth got a coat and, carrying it on both their shoulders, they walked backwards into the tent and covered their father. They turned their faces away so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.”  

Genesis 9:20-24

It’s hard to process this patriarch’s gross sin.  But in all fairness Noah had lost everything in the flood, so perhaps we should be gentle with him. On the other hand, people who cover up the nakedness of others seem to be gentle and humble.  They would never, ever dream of making a scandal.  They are trustworthy and understand to a great degree the things that make a man or woman of God.

Leviticus 18 is the “magnum opus” of nakedness. We are pretty much told over and over in this chapter, not to ever uncover another. Actually is pretty emphatic and somewhat redundant. But I think the Lord wanted it repeated this way.

Our vulnerabilities are there for all to see.  But there are also men and women who go out of their way to protect and shield.  They are safe people, in the classic sense of the word.  They cover-up, but never in negative or criminal way, but in love and blessing. (If it is a serious crime, the police should be involved.)

Mature believers will step forward and protect the open areas of others. 

Quite often we are exposed, open to attack on our weaknesses.  Mature believers will step forward and protect the open areas of others.  They will refuse to judge or point out sins.  But they will stand in the gap, shielding and protecting.

God’s final word on nakedness is in Revelation 3:18, and this is a good place to conclude this post,

“So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.”

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Falling, and Dying?

“I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed.25 Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who hate their lives in this world will keep true life forever.”

John 12:24-25, NCV

 

Often believers are attempting to ‘hear God’ only to bolster their position, reputation, ‘connections’ and prestige.  There’s no talk about falling down and dying as Jesus revealed in John 12.  If I’m extremely occupied with knowing God’s will it will maneuver me into a completely wrong position.  Discipleship was never meant to be a celestial self-improvement plan.

When I get over-concerned about ‘my’ discipleship, acquiring the praise of men and achieving a modicum of honor, I end up ‘missing the boat’.  Life was not meant to profit from, but ‘to fall and die.’  There is a deadly danger of becoming self-aware and self-absorbed.  And this is ‘the spirit of the age’.

Nothing will ever go right if we try to hear the Lord while we avoid falling and dying.  To put it another way.  There can be no resurrection without a crucifixion first.  We must die if we are going to live.  We must become weak before we can understand power.

Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’ 

Do you really want to hear Him?  Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’  Will you begin to readjust the way you approach yourself and others?Modern popular versions of our faith will almost always lack this ‘death-life’ component.  These versions are often designed to reflect our society.  And we are terribly self-centered.  We will not ever grow and mature unless we consent to ‘falling and dying’.

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’

 

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’ Dying to self is a challenging and vital component to our faith that will bring us into an astonishing fruitfulness.  That is what happens to those who die–they bring life to others.

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Jesus is Leaving Us?

But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.

John 16:7, CEV

Someone is thinking.  Jesus has an awareness of exactly how it’s going to unfold.  He understood that by departing from the disciples, He would open up the Ministry of the Holy Spirit to common people.  Jesus is thinking about what is best.  He isn’t vacillating.  It seems very opposite, but He must leave in order to bless.  IDK, but in my mind, for me– give me Jesus!

But there is a grace which definitely inundates us.  We stand with each other, soaked to the skin by mercy and love.  But this is what Jesus promised.  This sudden cloudburst of ‘goodness’ on us drenches us thoroughly.  We must learn to accept the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit.  His presence ‘enriches’ us beyond human comprehension.  He brings ‘gifts’ that astound us.

I know we figured otherwise.  But the ministry of the Holy Spirit more than doubles the work of Grace in our hearts.  But we don’t say this to diminish Jesus’ work in any way.  Rather, we understand the economy of God, and we know the common currency of the spiritual moment.  And the Holy Spirit is golden.

Jesus declares ‘what is best for you’.  But within me, after studying the Gospels, I want Jesus.  But He contends that there is something even better. Now who am I to dispute that?  Jesus declares that a ‘Helper’ or ‘Advocate” will come to us, and lead and then bless us.  We have never knew a helper; what does He do?  He is an advocate–what is that?

The Holy Spirit has been officially assigned to us. 

I remember the TV of my youth.  ‘I Dream of Jeannie“,  about 1966, (Now that goes way back).  You see Jeannie was assigned to Larry Hagman .  She lives to meet all his needs.  She is there to do all that the situation requires.  Now this is a trifle bit ‘reaching’, but she is there to help, strengthen, and watch over Larry.

The Holy Spirit is there for us.  He directs and completes us.  Life without His influence we would not recognize.  We would be stripped of any goodness and grace.  It is good that Jesus left to send the Spirit.  Our lives would be ‘hollowed’ and vacant without Him.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Dream_of_Jeannie

The Consuming Weariness of It All

“For my life is full of troubles,
    and death draws near.”

Psalm 88:3

There is often a dull and desperate tedium among us– especially those among us with profound mental and physical issues.  It never lets up, and the grind is constant.  The sheer exertion is most unwanted.  Depression, confusion, paranoia, and mania weave in and out of our life.  They seem to have ‘moved in’ with us.  And, they intend to stay. Boo!

There is often a hopelessness present–an ugly realization that there is no hope for today, and that tomorrow will not be any different.  It seems we are always standing on the outside looking in. Some consider ending it all rather than live without hope. It is a terrible ‘frame-of-mind.’

Contained in the scriptures are many stories, and parables about wedding feasts and king’s banquets.  One one occasion, somebody wheedles his way in to the party.  And he is strongly confronted.  They bind his hands and feet, carry him out.  He is thrown out into the “outer darkness.”  The charge prompting this was his attire, it was all wrong.  He wasn’t dressed for the wedding. He did not belong there.

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:11-14, ESV

Many have given into their despair, they now reside in “the outer darkness.”  They are no longer dressed for the banquet. Now I admit that mental illness and discipleship don’t always blend well together.  But the Father understands and he increases his deposit of grace to make up for this deficiency. He doesn’t treat his beloved sons equally. Extra grace is given to the chronically ill.

Those who limp are given extra help as they follow Him.

God has created us for this wedding feast. And it is with confidence that we look forward to this feast, for in Christ we will not be found naked but clothed in the white garments of His righteousness.  He took my dirty and filthy clothes and exchanged them for his own white ones.  We wear his gift, and Oh, what a wonder we are!

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
      For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
      and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
   I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
      or a bride with her jewels.”

Isaiah 61:10, NLT

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