8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The integrity of humility and dignity is shattered right after human fell into sin. What was in harmony is now in tension. It has been in tension ever since. We struggle with the limitation of our physical body. When God came to search for Adam and Eve, they did not welcome God with joy and thanksgiving. They no longer felt the dignity and honor of being visited by their Creator. So they hid behind the trees. They thought that when they hid their physical bodies, they could avoid God’s piercing eyes and his omniscience. They were ashamed of who they were. They could not present their bodies as they were before their maker. The natural humility was burdened with shame and humiliation. And their dignity went awry. It went haywire. Short circuited from top to bottom. And so in their humiliation, they did not humble themselves. But instead, Adam magnified his pride and answered the Lord as if
he did nothing wrong. He did not respond in humility. The first question God asked was: “Where are you?” The answer to the question was a cosmic disconnect between heaven and earth. This is the answer Adam gave to the caring and loving question of his God: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” When a king calls, his subject must answer “Here I am Lord.” But Adam did not answer politely. Why was Adam afraid? Why did he hide? This kind of action offended God. Was God some kind of monster that Adam should be afraid of? The magnification of his pride took the best of him. And so instead of admitting his fault of being disobedient, he accused God of being intimidating.
Then the second question from God: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Instead of again humbling himself and answering the King with proper honor, he indulged his pride and accused his wife of causing his disobedience. And ultimately he magnified his pride so great that he accused God himself to be at fault because he brought the woman to him. The integrity and harmony of humility and dignity that is within human nature has gone mad. Human is disintegrated into the two polarities of humility and dignity. When the two important ingredients of human structure are disintegrated what is left is humiliation and pride. This also happened to the first woman. When God then asked Eve: “What is this that you have done?” he got a similar answer from her in her magnified pride saying: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The integrity is shattered. The harmony ceased to exist. In our deepest humiliation we magnify our pride over in order to cope with the feeling of brokenness and unworthiness inside. Our eyes are fixed on the valueless dust that constructs our physical body. The data is interpreted by our mind, which in turn informs our pride to build a fortress in order to cover our fragility. This mode of survival is then passed on from generation to generation. It fits our sinful nature and has helped humans to survive in the merciless world. Our defense mechanism always starts with pride. Humility makes us vulnerable, so we set it aside. We take dignity and corrupt it so as to exploit it in a different format. The dignity is no more for it has been transformed into pride. Pride becomes our weapon and defense against being humiliated. The glory of being human is a thing in the past. Our humble origin from the dust of the earth shaped in the masterpiece of God, which obtained life through the breath of God himself, has become our enemy. To acknowledge that we are created by God is humiliating for our sinful mind. Our rebelliousness can’t accept our honorable humility. And we consider our origin as weakness. Pride takes over that instead of humbling ourselves before our Maker, we challenge God through our wild imagination of our origin. The proud humans did not want to give the honor to God for being our creator, and so in our stupid pride we leave the seat of honor that only God can sit on to chance.
So we learn to balance the art of hiding our humiliation and the skill to magnify our pride. Humility is a rare gem in the world of pride. When humans gather, we boast and brag about our achievements. We put our weakness in our safe deposit box to avoid humiliation and we wear the magnified mask of pride in order to present our self praise. In our habit of doing so we lost our true self and be deceived by our own masking of pride into embracing our false self as our identity. From there we extract values and ethics. But God reminds us time and time again of our humble origin through unavoidable death. So when God judged Adam he said: “... till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Our humble origin is our nature. It is within us. We tried very hard to sweep it under the rug, but we can never avoid it. It is inevitable. At the appointed time our dustness will be exposed and nothing we can do about it. When our humble origin is invoked and we are nearing our return to dust, we realize our humility. The memory of the past flies right in front of us to give us a reflection of our futile attempt to hide it. In our reflection we are reminded the vanity of our pride magnification throughout our life. No matter what we do to hide our humility, in the end it comes to us unstoppable. That’s the time when we break down in tears regretting every single decision we make that brought us further away from our true self. In our deathbed we are face to face with the reality of our true identity. Soon we will meet our Creator and we can hide nothing from him. Our true identity will be exposed. But at that time we understand that we have deceived ourselves our entire life with the false self. We want to deny our false self, but time is against us. We had our entire life, but we wasted it in pursuit of deception for fear that our humiliation would be found out and be exposed to the world. Now we are at the brink of death, we have no time anymore to nurture our true self. It has been forgotten for so long. Our true self is dying together with our body decaying. That’s the time when we can no longer brag and boast about our pseudo glory.
Sin devastates the integrity of our humility and dignity. It has destroyed it to the point that we are neither humble nor dignified. Sin depraves us that in reflecting our maker we no longer reflect him properly. Sin binds us in the state of humiliation and pride. The pursuit of pride leads us only to our humiliation. The life of a human being struggles between the polarity of humiliation and pride. No way out for us. Philosophers and religious leaders have worked very hard to solve this puzzle. But the disintegrity is never mended. Human wisdom can’t compete with the chasm in the midst of the disintegrity. Human is lost. Deep down every person cries out for help. God knows our need. So in his infinite wisdom and eternal love he planned for his Son to come as the savior of humankind. He fulfilled his plan 2000 years ago. He sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world. He came in humility to redeem us from our humiliation. He came with the heavenly dignity to redeem us from the bondage of earthly pride. He came an integrated being who was comfortable with his humility and walk dignified as the Son of Man. So when he was on earth he never gave in to temptations. He never felt insecure. He never needed to hide his humble origin. The whole earth celebrated his birth on a manger. He was okay with it. He never needed to mask his humble origin with a mask of pride. He never lost his dignity in his humble state. In that he is glorified to the highest by his Father.
In Jesus Christ we are redeemed. As his redeemed people, we regain our dignity in the embrace of our humility. God is transforming us to be like his Son. And so we gradually actualize our true self in our life by continuously denying our false self. In our humility we allow Jesus to lead us in the way we should go. That is our dignity as the children of God.
The Business of Christian Education LXXVI
The Business of Christian Education LXXVI