Hiding from God
1 John 2:28 …Abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
In my worst destruction, I identified very well with Adam and Eve, hiding in the garden. I do not think that God ever turned his back on me but I absolutely turned my back on him. He was constantly speaking, but I did not want to hear his awful voice. I did not want to look into his piercing eyes. His face was the mirror that reflected my shame and it was too painful to look at. So, like Adam and Eve, I hid, shamed, naked and hoping that God could not find me.
Some will insist that as I am eternally forgiven, that I am unable to injure my relationship with God. While it is true that I am eternally saved and cannot lose my salvation, I can absolutely distance myself from him. I can grieve (Eph 4:30) and quench his spirit in me (1 Thes 5:19) and as John suggests in this passage, I can abide or not abide in him. If I choose to follow him, I will have confidence in that relationship. If I follow self, I will have only shame, and I will be desperate to avoid his presence. This is indeed a miserable place in which to live.
As miserable as it is to hide from God, there is a worse condition that many of us have found ourselves in. When we become calloused or numb to God’s absence, we are truly in a desperate position. We, like Adam and Eve, can hide ourselves so long in the garden that we do not even realize we are doing it. We can become blind to our own separation from God. I think many of us have lived paralyzed by our shameful deeds and thus have made ourselves deaf and blind to God’s absence.
We have sown together fig leaves out of our excuses in an attempt to cover our nakedness and shame. We have grown comfortable with our own lies and thus, we have anesthetized ourselves to the painful vacancy of God in us. I’m not that bad. I only sin a little. At least I’m not doing drugs or having an affair. No one knows. I’m not hurting anyone. I was born this way. I can’t help it. I deserve this… We all have our own lies that we use to cover our shame, but like the fig leaves, they do not address the problem. They only hide it from our eyes.
John insists that the only solution to our condition is to abide in Christ. This means that we are to do whatever it takes to leave behind our secret sins and spend as much time and energy pursuing Christ as we did pursuing those destructive desires. It is in pursuing God and following him that we come to love his presence instead of fearing it.