Always naked

June 9 is St. Columba’s Day, remembering the 6th century Irish Monk who, like Patrick of Ireland a century before him, is largely credited with bringing an entire region to Christ. Columba accepted what was called “white martyrdom” (“red” involving the shedding of blood) in which he was willing to leave his beloved Irish homeland to go across the Irish Sea to Scotland. Once there, he founded a number of monasteries from which he brought many to Christ, including the monarchy and others in authority.

The monasteries adopted a simple Rule of Life, named after Columba (https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/columba-rule.asp).  Among its tenets was this:  Be always naked in imitation of Christ and the Evangelists.  I must confess that I began to scan my knowledge of Church history to recall if there ever were monastic houses whose members were nudists. Finding none, I take this to mean living in the “nakedness” which is part of the fallen, and the redeemed, human condition. In Genesis 3, after their fall from grace, Adam and Eve painfully state that they are naked and afraid, which represented the awareness of their vulnerability, depravity, and mortality now that they had abandoned living in obedience under the protection of God. This was a far cry from the statement in Genesis 2 that they were “naked and unashamed”. But the beauty of our redemption in Christ is that we are positionally restored to our original state in Christ, “naked and unashamed” before Him, because of what Jesus did in being naked on the cross and bearing the sin and shame of the world, including you the reader and me the writer.

In Hebrews 4:13 we’re told that all things [including us] are naked and opened unto The Eyes of Him with Whom we have to do” (KJV). Whereas for sinners like us this Word might have a certain ominous “uh-oh” tone, the Scripture goes on to speak of how we have a Great High Priest Who sympathizes with us in our weakness. He, too, was marked by His nakedness, His complete openness before The Eyes of His Heavenly Father. However, He was naked and unashamed. And, in Him, we can be too, experiencing the freedom of being able to stand buck naked in the Presence Fo God, having been justified by the Love and Cross of Jesus, “naked” before God, and before others. 

May you be given grace to do the same, to be both the horribly wrecked sinner in the Eyes of God and the gloriously redeemed saint from whom God never removes His Loving Gaze.

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