“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” –Matthew 5: 8
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” –Mark 12: 30
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” -Proverbs 1: 7
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” -1 John 3: 1
The Bible from beginning to end is a multi-layered, archetypal, true tale of mythic proportions. It is above all a story of relationships–authentic, transparent relationships; broken, dysfunctional relationships; reconciled, restored relationships; and eternal, ever-present relationship with the triune God, whose very existence is recorded in relationship.
In Genesis 1: 26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” because He has always been united in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As humans our most important connection is with Him. Because we are little reflections of God’s great being, we can truly know Him, love Him, and be loved by Him. He made us also with the capacity to love one another; in harmony we reflect His glory.
Male and female were created for relationship. Woman (literally, “man with womb”) was designed as counterpart and co-equal with man. Together they made the child, a visible expression of their unity in creativity. So the first family reflected the “God-family”—the masculine/feminine essence of God, with the procreative spiritual transmission through time and space of that essence in the child. In a similar way the indwelling Holy Spirit is imparted to us through Christ.
God the Father’s relationship with man and woman in the Garden of Eden was as a perfect Father with His adult children. Though transparent with one another, Adam and Eve were covered by His glory, the same cloud or mist surrounding His presence that later filled Solomon’s temple on rare occasions (1 Kings 8: 10).
From the garden Adam and Eve communed with God in the cool of the day and the quiet of the evening, relishing their mutual connection both in silence and conversation, knowing His acceptance and His desire for friendship with them.
The Father’s infinitely beautiful creation was theirs to tend together, with all the joyful artistry He inspired in them. Every day they partook of His magnificently deep and satisfying life; nothing but their own choice could separate them from His presence.
Satan, the one who chose knowledge and controlling power above relationship to God in His Lordship, came to entice Adam and Eve to do the forbidden. He persuaded them to trade life in communion with the Holy Spirit for the affirmation gained by seeking purpose, meaning, and validation from their own efforts. As soon as God’s presence became no longer their focus, their delight, and their sufficiency, the first couple lost the protective covering of His glory. Vulnerability to death with all its effects was the price they paid for the knowledge to become like gods in their own eyes.
When the Lord returned to look for Adam and Eve, they hid from Him. At this moment they became aware of their own nakedness and felt compelled by the shame that resulted from that revelation to construct their own self-protective fig leaf clothing (Genesis 6: 7). The sense of our separation from God and our longing for reunion with Him started then.
Hiding that began with Adam and Eve–from God, each other, and even from self–continues today in all of us. The need to cover flaws and hide our true identity stems from the loss of that intimate life-giving relationship with Him, as our ancestors knew it in the Garden.
The nature of fallen man, which leads to death, was brought into being when Adam and Eve willfully separated themselves from God’s direction and fashioned their own protection. The first couple made excuses, indicting the serpent enemy, each other, even God Himself (“…the man said, ‘the woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’”-Genesis 3: 12). Thus began blame shifting, deceit, shame, denial, and relational brokenness in every area of life.
Pride forms fig leaves. Pride is self-protection and self-concealment in the form of self-flattery, which includes denial of one’s honest assessment of self. It promotes broken relationship (separation) from oneself. It serves as a shield against feeling shame and vulnerability.
God later gave the Law to his beloved fallen race, that they would know His character through His principles and find relationship with Him by following His precepts. Obedience to the Law provided a framework for communication, and the temple with its ritual sacrifices became a temporary dwelling place for His Spirit, until a home for His presence could once more be found in our intimate union with Him.
Because of Christ the Law has been fulfilled and we can once again be surrounded by, filled with, and covered in the glory of His powerful love, but only as we willingly bring all we are to Him. When we ask Christ to come into our heart, He enters its chambers, but only where we allow Him access.
Because we were born with the nature of Adam, everyone has hidden spots in the heart. Our self-protective “fig leaves” must be found and openly handed to God, who then can truly become protector and Lord more and more in our personalities, histories, and relationships.
As we discover and surrender these “fig leaves” to God, He progressively reveals His glory in our lives. When “dark hiding places in our hearts” are allowed to come into the illumination of Christ and be healed, we become more transparent, so His light can radiate clearly through us. Others then see more of Christ and less of us, as if He were standing inside and shining through the shadow of our natural physical selves.
This increasingly intimate union with the Lord fills our hearts more and more with the peaceful closeness that encompassed Adam and Eve in the garden. We find ourselves coming to Him again and again, as little children in trust turn to their all-loving Father. In Him we are revealed as the people He created us to be from the very beginning (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”-Jeremiah 1: 5).
We begin to sense His purpose and plan for us one step at a time. We start to find our lives as part of His story. Then the people around us become in our eyes individual miracles of God’s image in human substance, created for relationship, designed to uniquely mirror back to their Creator His presence in each awesomely irreplaceable form.