January 17, 2021. Sermon Title: The Inescapable Presence

First Mennonite Church

January 17, 2021

Inescapable Presence

Text: Genesis 3: 1-10; Psalm 139: 7-12

Once, a couple entered into the pastor’s office and they glowed with love for each other. She was bright, vivacious, talented, attractive and young. He was bright, vivacious, talented, handsome and less young. She was in her mid-twenties and he was well through his forties. And as they gave reasons for their love and mutual attraction, she highlighted one with which she seem a little disappointed. She said he likes swimming, but every time they were by the pool he always found an excuse not to. 

After the pastor excused her for a second, he came clean. 

“I suppose you are wondering about the swimming thing,” he said. “I like swimming, boating, water-skiing and all those things. But I’ve got a hang-up that is connected to the difference in our ages. I’m getting a little thin on top, if you know what I mean. But, with a creative comb-over that I’ve mastered and a liberal amount of hairspray, I can hide it, except in the water. Which, were I to enter, might blow my cover. This relationship looks promising, but there is this thing about our ages. What if she sees ‘bald’ and thinks ‘old’? I’m not sure I’m ready to risk it,” he said. 

And although we can fall on this guy and say that he is just insecure or that he was making a simple issue into a “big deal” or any way we might want to analyze him, we need to realize that to some degree we can be like him. We might have some kind or another of a creative comb-over, yet not necessarily having to do with our hair. And time might come when we may fear our cover can be blown off. It can be a difficult task to keep something under any “creative comb-over.”  Time will come when we might have to come clean with the truth.

The Genesis passages, this morning, portrays the perennial human game of hide and seek between us and God. Adam and Eve illustrate the game very beautifully. As for Psalm 139, the Psalmist confesses the human impossibility of hiding from God.

The aftermath of the Fall clearly illustrates humanity’s futile attempt to hide from God and sometimes even from each other. God in his unlimited generosity with our first ancestors gave them all they needed to live in their perfect world. But God also gave them one rule only: “You shall not eat of the tree that is in the center of the garden.” They broke the rule and right away discovered that they were naked. Thus, they hurriedly sought to cover up their nakedness and to hide from God. Genesis portrays God’s fondness to visit with Adam and Eve. And God’s visits were not scheduled. He just came by to visit with them at any moment. That afternoon, Adam heard God coming, but this time Adam was embarrassed to be seen in the state he just found himself to be. So tried to cover himself under a leafy loincloth and under the trees.

Adam’s attempt to hide illustrates the human futility of trying to hide from God or to pretend there is not even a God who sees us. As for us Christians, we might also attempt to hide or avoid facing the presence of God. Just as the Lord God came to visit Adam and Eve, he comes to us, desiring to connect with us deeply and personally. However, there might be reasons we’d prefer to hide from or avoid the God’s presence.

  • Past experiences of pain or disappointment, which we cannot let go, can be real obstacles to connect with God. You see, our relationship with God is usually in the context of the Christian community. Therefore, if communing with God means that we need to connect with others, then our fear to be hurt or disappointed again might make us avoid coming closer to God.
  • Another reason we might want to avoid God is because of a sense of unworthiness. The awareness of our weaknesses and failures can make us feel undeserving of being in the presence of the Holy God. We should recognize, however, that living for God is only possible through God’s grace and strength, not ours. It is in our weaknesses that the power of Christ is revealed in us, says Paul.
  • Another reason we knowingly or unknowingly avoid the presence of God is caused by our busyness or our misplaced priorities. Business or the pursuit of life can make us oblivious of God’s visitation to us. Therefore, the importance of taking time during the day to quiet our heart and mind to be with God. Psalm 46, verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

This last point is very important because communion with God consists chiefly in reordering the focus of our relationships. We live under the pressure to fend for ourselves, at least that is how it feel. The strength and closeness of our relationships are defined by those that support us and give us a sense security, also because we see them. This is the challenge we have about the presence of God. We cannot see God. But if we considered that God is present with us in our homes, workplaces, while shopping for groceries, in our walks and times of exercise or rest, then we would be watchful and sensitive to hear his voice. It is only when we have full awareness of God’s presence that we would everything with care, holy passion, and with love.

Yahweh the Lord, mercifully called Adam, “Where are you”? Could Adam and Eve really hide from God? Did God really not know where they were? 

The Psalmist confesses to God, “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence”? The Psalmist admits it is a futile thing to attempt fleeing the presence of God. God is unavoidable. His presence is inescapable. The Lord God knows where we stand before him. He knows if and when we want to cover ourselves with fig leaves. Today we are once more reminded that we simply cannot hide from God.

My sisters and brothers, just as God did with Adam and Eve he does with us.  God’s incessant desire to engage with us, to commune with us, to be by our side, is not out of selfishness nor to spy on us, but out of love because he created, redeemed, and sanctified us. He keeps coming in the morning, at midday, and at nighttime, calling us, “where are you?”

This morning, as we close in prayer, let us come clean before God. Let us tell him where we are and how we are doing. Let us tell him where we are in terms of our relationship with him or in our relationship with others. His compassion never ceases. He will receive us.  Amen!

Pastor Romero