March 18, 2018 – Relational Wholeness and Shame
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Genesis 1-4
Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Shame (v25) is a powerful force against the relational wholeness that characterizes the story of God and humanity in the garden.
I) Moving towards relationship
- v18 “it is not good that man should be alone” (a deeper problem than loneliness)
- v18 “I will make a helper”
II) Shrinking from relationship
- the story is moving towards a profound unity (v24 “they shall become one flesh”)
- dramatic tension – v20 “but… there was not found a helper…”
- the temptation to autonomy in Genesis 3 – man becomes alone
III) Restoring relationship
- the helper in this story is God (v18 “I will make”; v22 “the Lord God made”)
- what Jesus accomplished, the Son of God incarnated, is sealed with the sending of the Spirit, making Christians members of a family
Questions for Reflection
- How do you experience being alone? Do you prefer to be alone? With one or a few people? With a lot of people? Do you do well in all of those scenarios?
- Do you see shame as a force at work in your life? What negative assessments do you have about yourself? Where do you think these come from?
- In what kinds of interactions do you avoid vulnerability? What sorts of weaknesses or failings are you very willing to share? What sorts of weaknesses or failings do you work very hard to keep private? Who can you be open with? Who are you guarded around?
- Jesus tells us to love one another. How can you move towards others for relationships of mutual help? How can you overcome thoughts of taking the safer way of minimizing intimacy? What do you need to believe, understand or hold to in order to have greater consistency in moving towards others?
- What aspects of the gospel story address that Jesus brings relational reconciliation between God and human beings? What aspects of Christianity speak to those things which keep you drawing away from God? How is shame addressed by Jesus?
- Do you find sufficient freedom and confidence in the message that your sins are pardoned because Jesus has died in your place? What about that is hard to grasp, understand, or hard for you to participate in? If guilt seeks to repair (moves the guilty party to solve the problem), is shame at work within you to hinder your fully grasping the good news and the new life Jesus offers? What steps can help you keep shame from holding you back?
- How can our church be a place of relational health? How can we be a family that practices grace and draws people into new experiences of authentic relationships?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in heaven, it is not good for us to be alone. You have made us for fellowship with you and one another. We confess that our sins have alienated us, leading us to fear you, but not revere you; leading us to envy, rather than help others. We recognize that shame operates within us, and admit we are weak to overcome the estrangement that tempts us. We have become skilled at hiding, and have lost the instincts of honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for the gospel message of love, for Jesus who moved towards us and made himself one with us through his incarnation, and for the Spirit who is our helper in weakness. We are your family, and may the Lord’s Supper this morning lead our church into deeper connections with you and one another. Amen.