The Naked and Broken Leader 3.2

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Camouflaging Our Condition 3.2

          Right from the beginning, humans have tried to conceal the fact that underneath all of the pomp, we are perishable jars of clay.  As we learn from Genesis chapter three, the first human couple embarrassingly orchestrated the first scandalous leadership cover-up in history.  In the Garden, Adam and Eve chose to listen to some malicious and destructive advice stemming from an achievement-based leadership theory.  Acting upon that theory, Adam and Eve pursued their own elevation and as a result, ironically, Adam and Eve plunged rather than climbed.  Their enticing and unquenchable hunt for knowing more, seeing more, and gaining more led them to seclusion and isolation rather than to freedom.  At the moment of their attempt to seize control the eyes of their souls were eternally opened, momentarily at least.   In shame of their nakedness, the original couple strung fig leaves together to cover up. 
          Later in the day, we’re told, Adam and Eve heard God walking around in the garden.  Alarmed that their condition would hit the headlines, they veiled themselves among the trees.  Their desire was to blend in to the surroundings, hiding behind the stylistic evolution of fig-leaf camouflage gear.  But even the greatest wardrobe and most impressive performance couldn’t conceal the fact that Adam and Eve were naked.  And God knew it. 
          So God called out to the couple.  He knocked on the doors of the Garden and asked, “Adam, Eve, where are you?”  It’s not that God didn’t know where they were.  He certainly did.  But God wanted to give Adam and Eve the opportunity to reveal for their own sakes where they were and what condition they were in.  But being laid bare before God was a distressing concept to these two blemished leaders.  Clearly, Adam was ashamed to come out into God’s light for fear that his deeds and his heart would be exposed. {1}   He didn’t want to deal with it honestly.  He wanted the problem of his nakedness and brokenness to go away.  He didn’t want God or anyone else (including his wife) to see him that way: as a broken man- a naked clay jar.  So he tried to cover it up.  But eventually Adam came out of hiding and ashamedly admitted to God, “I heard you, so I hid.  I was afraid because I was naked.”
          One aspect of our fearful resistance to being exposed is that we don’t want to face what we look like before God.   According to Genesis three, humans were created in God’s image.  Humans are supposed to be a reflection of who he is.  But when we stand before him in a full-length stare we become ashamed that we are but a cracked likeness of our Creator.  The process of this revelation is painfully illuminating.  As Kevin Mannoia has pointed out, “this downward path is, at first glance, unpalatable if not repulsive to the human will.”  But without the candid introspection of our condition, we will resist allowing God to shape us as his followers.  Mannoia suggests that the process of pain “is required in order for solid leadership foundations to be built out of which performance will flow.” {2}
          Christians are especially good at the cover-up.  We have become fashion designers of a pretentious style.  We live according to a persona of morality and peace in a world of nearly unrestrained sin and war.   It is expected that followers of Jesus will reflect God’s values and actions.  So most Christians are reluctant to initiate the revelation of our “old” nature.  We are ashamed to be exposed as pretenders who are actually transgressors rather than sanctified believers.   But the truth is that many in our society are calling out for Christians to openly face their condition.  Most of the world understands that Christians are sinners and that Christians share in the painfulness of life.  Our Creator and our world sees our brokenness.  So who are we trying to convince or impress?  Christians should never hide.  We should say “Here am I” and present ourselves in our full glory… or lack thereof.  We must be willing to be made completely bare before God.
          As more and more followers of Jesus are willing to be exposed as broken people in a broken world, the Christian community can better lead others towards authentic transformation through Jesus Christ.  Erwin McManus has suggested that as Christians admit brokenness and confess Jesus’ love, then “the church becomes the place for the broken and the weary to finally find healing and the help they’ve cried for.  The church becomes the place where the lonely and outcast are finally embraced and loved in the community of Christ.”

{1} See John 3:16-21
{2}  Mannoia, 48-49
{3} McManus, Erwin Raphael. The Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God had in Mind (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2001), 224 pages, 65.

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