Have you seen the hit reality TV show, Naked and Afraid? It seems that two West Monroe men have been contestants on the show. Now they are local celebrities.
I thought about trying out for the show, but let’s be honest – one look at me and the producers would show me the door. The whole place would erupt in laughter.
To be honest with you, that is fine with me. I’ve never been one to flaunt this perfect physique of mine. I try to keep it covered – modesty is my motto.
But seriously, I was wondering this week about what kind of idiot would want to take all of his (or her) clothes off and live for an extended period of time in a primitive setting. Mosquitos, ants, and porcupines – it’s too much to think about. Apparently, there is no shortage of people who think that fame, no matter the cost in terms of human dignity, is worth whatever price one would have to pay.
Think about it – years from now you’re walking down 5th Avenue in New York, and the Naked Cowboy yells out to his throng of adoring fans (in front of your grandkids), “Hey, there’s that dude who was on that TV show, Naked and Afraid.” You would never live it down.
At some point, it occurred to me that Naked and Afraid isn’t the first run on this theme. Actually, the producers must have read the Bible at some point.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed their Creator (decided to call God a liar and do things their own way), the first thing they did was to shape some fig leaves into a makeshift garment to hide their nakedness (pronounced “neckedness” here in the South). The next thing they did was to hide in the bushes.
When God called out for them, you’re not going to believe their response: “I was naked and afraid, so I hid” (that’s only a slight variation of the translation).
There you have it – at the dawn of creation the theme for a 21st Century reality TV show was already conceptualized.
Most of us have had nightmares about nakedness. Mine? I’m in the middle of J.C. Penny’s and all of a sudden I realize that I’m in my underwear. I dream it all the time. Dreamt it last night – for real.
I think that the psychology of this phenomenon is rooted in Genesis chapter 3. I know what is in my heart, and it’s ugly…really ugly. In fact, it’s so bad I don’t want you to know about it.
And that’s the problem. Sin is spiritual nakedness. Or sin brings on awareness that we are naked. Adam was naked before. What changed?
And with spiritual nakedness comes the attending fear that someone will find out. And the fear that others will discover what we are really all about is rooted in another fear that they won’t like us very much.
Yes, we are all naked and afraid.
But sometimes it’s not even rooted in sin. People ask me all the time, “How are you doing, Gordo?” I don’t like answering that question sincerely because being honest about it means that I have to be vulnerable. And sometimes, more often than not, I’m on the verge of weeping. I don’t want people to see that side of me…that crybaby, whiny, sissy side of me.
Yes, I am naked and afraid. I am afraid others will see me in my most vulnerable moments. I’m afraid that others will see that I am fearful about the future that Jan and I have together. Where will this Alzheimer’s thing lead us? And I am afraid that I will not be seen as a godly man who is trying to fall down before the throne of God empty handed and appeal to God’s mercy and grace.
Yes, I am naked and afraid. God did not give me a spirt of fear, yet here I am so afraid that I wake up all during the night crying out to God to take it away from me.
If this is a reality show that affords me the opportunity to garner fame, leave me out of the cast. I don’t want it. I hate fear and I hate shame. I wish that I was more confident. I wish I could just whistle while I work.
But will she know my name? Will being a caregiver be such a burden that my health declines?
There I go again…I am making it all about me, and I’m afraid that you will see my nakedness and shame.
I only see one way out of this fear and shame. Check this out:
Galatians 3: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. …
Here’s the New Testament answer to an Old Testament problem. When my faith and hope are in Jesus, it’s like I’ve put Christ on like a cloak. I believe that he is enough…at least I want to believe that. I always said I did, but when the stuff hits the fan, it certainly challenges your assumptions about your worldview.
“Do I really believe this?” I ask myself. Is this real to you? Because if it is real, this is when it comes into play. I’ve either been clothed with Christ (he hides my nakedness and therefore takes away my shame) or I haven’t.
And check this out too:
2 Corinthians 5: Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,  because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
I am clothed now so that my fear and shame are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. But I’m still in the battle. So I find myself going back and forth between saying that Jesus has my back and wanting to cover up my shame and guilt with my own version of fig leaf fashion accessories.
I joke and laugh. You may think I’m a fool, but it’s my fig leaf therapy…a therapy that is doomed to fail and leave me empty (at least it has up to this point).
But here Paul is talking about the ultimate covering. It happens at that precise moment when my Lord returns to reward me with a permanent removal of shame by completely covering me for eternity. It’s when the sinful nature is finally destroyed and temptation is removed. It’s when I am completely and finally transparent and intimacy becomes second nature to me.
And yes, I groan all night long and most of the day longing to finally shed myself of this nakedness and shame and and loneliness…loneliness that can only be filled by my Father.
Jan told me this morning as we were leaving for church, “I can’t wait to meet Jesus face-to-face. I’m so lonely for him.”
Wow! That’s how I want to be. That’s a woman who knows who she belongs to.
I don’t know how you try to cover up your nakedness, fear, and loneliness, but I do know you have your little strategies. They won’t work any better than mine.
Give it up. Plead with God to unmask your silly wardrobe and give you one that does the job – permanently. He’s pretty good at it – he’s been doing it since the dawn of creation, after all.
My benevolent and loving Father, I plead with you to reveal your reality to me – the ultimate reality. I beg you to show me the futility of covering my nakedness and shame with my puny fig leaves – clothe me with your garment instead – the crucified and risen Christ. Please, dear God, let that be enough for me. I am naked and afraid – I confess. I openly admit that I am powerless over all fear and shame. Let Jesus be enough for me. Give me the strength and grace to put my old, naked and afraid, sinful self to death and live a new life in you. Please, my Father, empower me with Resurrection power, to empty my pockets of all my cash and loose change and allow you to replace it with what is real and meaningful and eternal. That will be enough for me.