A mom of multiples struggles anxiously through her days, but she doesn't dare share it with others or ask for help because she wants to maintain the appearance that everything is under control. A family sits at the dinner table making small talk as they avoid their children's behavioral problems in hopes that they will just go away. A young husband wrestles with lustful addictions and hides them from his wife. A young woman battles depression, sometimes wishing to take her own life, but is too embarrassed to ask for help. Underlying all of these scenarios is the fear of exposure. We are afraid of being exposed for who we really are. We are afraid of people seeing the deepest and darkest parts of ourselves and our lives. We fear the truth being brought to light, the responses that may come, and the consequences of such exposure. But where does this fear come from?
In the beginning pages of the Bible, Adam and Eve had everything they could've ever wanted. They lived in perfect harmony with God in the Garden. The only thing they did not have access to was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God forbade them to eat of it. But when enticed by Satan, they doubted God's goodness and ate from the tree. Instantly they became aware of their sin. As a result, they hid from God and covered their bodies with fig leaves in shame. They were afraid of being exposed for their sin and disobedience. They were afraid of the consequences caused by their actions. And they were ultimately afraid of being seen and fully known in their rebellion. These feelings of shame have been carried through generations, and we, too, are prone to run and hide in our sin. This is the ripple effect of the fall. Freedom is lost. Fear enters in. And we are afraid of being exposed for who we really are.
But where does hiding leave us? Is it better than being exposed? Pretending and saving face can only last for so long if we desire a deep and meaningful relationship with others and an honest relationship with God. Not revealing our truest selves only leads to isolation, and just like mold grows best in the dark, so our sin continues to grow in the darkness of our shame. Sin invades, entices, dilutes, distorts, and devours. And ultimately, sin leads to death. When we fear exposure, sin is never dealt with, leaving no room for repentance and change. We should never minimize or overlook the temptations of sin or ignore the crafty schemes of Satan. And we certainly should not ignore the consequences of sin being covered up. It will only grow and entangle us more over time, eventually enslaving us to it.
There are moments in life when our sin and struggles astound us–when we are harshly reminded of how broken we are. Our gut reaction is to hide our faces and to run. We don't want anyone to see the ugly parts of us, so we carry on pretending we don't struggle with sin to avoid condemnation. Even if we succeed in hiding our sin from others, our sin is never hidden from God. He knows every facet of our being–our thoughts, our intentions, and our actions. And as Christians, our shame and sin do not get the final say. God, in His sovereignty, knew we would turn from Him and hide. Therefore, He had a plan of redemption all along–a plan to send His Son to die on our behalf, to bear the weight of the sin that pushes us into the shadows. Then, His Son would rise from the grave three days later, and He would raise us to walk in the light with Him. Christ invites us in, still, knowing all our faults and flaws. Shame tells us to go away and hide, but Christ, with full awareness of our sin, says, "Come to me" (Matthew 11:28). He invites us to change us. He calls us to sanctify us into His likeness. He carries our sin to the cross and clothes us with radiant faces (Psalm 34:5).
Because of Christ, we never have to hang our heads in shame and hide. This hope frees us from the fear of exposure and allows us to live authentically, revealing the best and the worst of ourselves to those around us while pointing to God's redemptive work in our hearts. Why? Because Christ has set us free from sin and given us His righteousness. No one can condemn or shame us for our sin because Christ bore all of our shame and condemnation on the cross. We don't have to pretend to possess a righteousness of our own. We don't have to pretend we don't struggle with sin. Instead, we can confess our hardships, sin struggles, and vulnerabilities to others. We can repent and walk in the forgiveness offered to us in Jesus. We can put on the righteousness of Christ and allow the Spirit to sanctify us, so we look more like Jesus every day. God knows even the vilest and most detestable parts of our hearts and still chose to send His Son to rescue us from our sins. We don't have to fear exposure, and we can lift our eyes with full assurance, running willingly to the One who sees it all and loves us still.