As I walked around campus today, I saw a broad spectrum of students. Some who seemed to put effort into their appearance, others who wore their pajamas. Some who wore Greek letters others who wore coverings on their heads. These students race to class, look for friends, and scroll through their cell phones. I share common ground with these students—the daily struggle of whose voice to listen to. All day long, we are bombarded with voices that offer alternatives to what God has said about us. We’re surrounded by cultural voices that alternately whisper and yell, jockeying for a powerful position that speaks identity into our souls. Our culture speaks in a million voices—the past, the future, the failures and successes, the promise of respect and approval— but all of these voices have the common goal of laying their stamp on our identity. If the voices can convince us of their claims, then we’ll become dependent on culture, looking to it and its members for approval and satisfaction.
After Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, they knew they were in deep sinunu. They thought God was mad. I think God was heartbroken that they walked away from their God-given identity. They were ashamed of their nakedness and went into hiding. God asks, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Adam and Eve had been naked since they were created. Now however, the humans saw “naked” as synonymous with “shame.” Adam and Eve no longer saw themselves as God saw them. They had bought in to a new self-perspective. This new identity required a new mode of operation: hiding, manipulation, lying, guilt and blame.
“Who told you that you were naked?”
God’s question highlighted their rejection of his voice. “Who redefined your identity?” “Who told you what would bring fulfillment?” “Who has promised you security, affection or happiness?” He could have said, “Who misled you?”
God asks me these same questions: Who am I listening to as I walk across campus? Who am I listening to as I’m self-conscious about my parenting skills at Rudy’s? Who told me I had to perform? Who told me I should respond defensively? Who told me that I was naked?
It would be easier to recognize the false voices if they were coming from snakes. Unfortunately, the voices are normally appealing, even offering half-truths or an alternate version of what God has extended.
The voices call us to reject the fullness of what it is to belong to the Creator. They call us away from the Love that protects and guides and lead us instead into the murky waters of self-preservation and fear. When I listen to a voice other than God’s, I forget who I am. When I forget, I encounter a panic that impels me to take matters into my own hands. False identity always incites a scramble for control, like hiding and making fig-leaf coverings.
When Adam and Eve walked with God, they took God’s voice as reality. They viewed themselves the way he viewed them. When I listen to a voice other than God’s, I’m thankful for the gentle Voice that reminds me of what’s real. This voice calls us to the reality of belonging. When we listen to God, we return to our walk in the garden where shame is replaced again with communion. Here, we don’t hide—we just dance.