Naked and Ashamed
Pass on your way . . . in nakedness and shame. Micah 1:11
While on a job interview for my first real job as a physician, I realized an hour in that my zipper was down. It was awful. I couldn’t think, and I couldn’t fix it without drawing attention to it. Though fully clothed, I felt exposed and embarrassed.
Maybe some people don’t mind, but most of us fear exposure. I’m not talking about clothing. I’m talking about what it would be like for all of our worst thoughts and darkest deeds to be made public. We all have our flaws and we don’t want the entire world to know everything about us anymore than we want to walk around naked. We all have some struggle that we keep hidden from others.
Nakedness is inherently shameful. Micah used this principle in today’s passage to illustrate to God’s people what would happen when the consequences of their actions caught up with them. In their rebellion, God’s people would be stripped for all the world to see. Total exposure was, and still is, profoundly embarrassing.
This reality presents a problem for Christians. Because faith is supposed to transform our behavior, we place expectations on each other. Because we are still flawed though, we are judgmental. So, when we inevitably struggle, we hide it because we fear that judgement. It’s profoundly embarrassing to have our failings exposed. The problem is that struggling isn’t the exception. It’s the norm . . . for all of us. This doesn’t mean that destructive behavior isn’t destructive, it just means that we all have issues.
When my name was in the paper for my addiction, I felt profoundly exposed and shameful. I don’t blame the church, but I didn’t want to go there because suddenly, I felt like I was dirty and didn’t fit in.
As followers of Christ though, it is precisely those who are hurting and struggling that we are supposed to be helping. If we want to reach the struggling and lost, we must work, not on our shiny facade, but on honesty and transparency. I’m not suggesting that we must confess our sins up on stage every Sunday. I’m just saying that we’ve all left our zippers down. We would do well to embrace humility, admitting this to God, ourselves and to others.