Scripture reveals things we try to hide. When we see these things clearly, it is an occasion for thankfulness and humility.
The occasion this time was a comment we heard from Adelaide, my two-year-old granddaughter. While the adults were talking around the dinner table, she was in the adjacent room when we heard her say, “I did wrong. You can’t see me.” When we investigated, we saw no obvious wrong and assumed she was remembering an event from earlier in the day. With no egregious sin to consider with her, I reflected on her spiritual instincts.
So much hiding. We try to dress ourselves up in fancy resumes, we defend and attack, we blame others, we look for scapegoats, we lie. Meanwhile, we are like the emperor with his new clothes, naked as can be and working hard to look regal. We languish in these lonely prisons and hope our fraudulent ways will stay hidden. So much hiding. Please, don’t see me.
Adelaide reminds us of an important spiritual reality. We are moral failures who hide. But whereas Adelaide’s experience was temporary, many people live this way permanently. They hide behind walls where they hope neither God nor other people can see, and the isolation is killing them.
This week I witnessed two extremes. I caught a glimpse of a hider who doesn’t want to be seen. He was a frayed mess of anxieties, anger, judgment and boasting. He barely looked human. I also saw a man who had nothing to hide. He was by no means perfect. But the ugly things had already been spoken to his holy and loving Father, so it was a small thing to speak them to me. He had a clear conscience. At rest. Open and receptive, not defensive. Humble. Humanity at its full-flowering best. I wanted to be like him.
Human beings were created to live in the light and be fully known, even in their sin. It gets me thinking about John 21 again and the way Jesus loved Peter on the beach that morning. Peter’s denials on the night Jesus was arrested did not stay hidden. His tragedy would only be multiplied if his sin remained in the dark. Instead, Peter was one step ahead of Adelaide. He could say after this encounter with Jesus; I did wrong, Christ sees me and restores me.
What a gift. Scripture puts a microscope over a little girl’s comments and reveals all humanity in them. Here we see another benefit of the cross of Jesus. In his death he brings us out of hiding, takes our nakedness on himself, and clothes us in his love and righteousness. We no longer have to find other achievements to make us presentable. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Rom.1:17).