“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3-4).
This past Valentine’s Day, my Mom gave me a bouquet of tulips that had yet to blossom. After picking them up from the Whole Foods courier, I found a mason jar, filled it with water, and placed the tulips by my windowsill. Day after day, I watched them bloom, slowly but surely, reaching towards the sun as if they were straining their necks. What I soon noticed, however, was that the tulips positioned further away from the window received almost no sunlight. Under the shadow cast by the other tulips, they wilted and died.
As I observed the wilting tulips, I found them to be analogous to the role sin plays in our lives. From the very moment of Original Sin, when Adam and Eve recognized the significance of disobeying their very own Father & Creator, they hid. As is described in the account of Genesis: “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” (Genesis 3:8).
This instinct is not unique to Adam and Eve – I see it so often in myself and in those around me. In our original design, God, our Creator, who is perfect in every respect, created us to live in His presence. Hence, whenever we act against His design, whenever we bring more brokenness into the universe He created as perfect through our disobedience, we break our communion with God. This causes us to fall away from where we were made to stand as His children. The cold, hard truth is that this chasm between us and God can be mended neither by any good works we may try to perform, nor by our accumulation of such acts. It only takes a single act of sin to create a divide between Him who is perfect in glory and us. As a result, we are also subject to His righteous judgment, as He is cognizant to our every transgression. In living with this knowledge of our standing with God, it thus makes sense that we hide from Him, especially out of shame and self-condemnation for a perfection we can never attain.
Much like the tulips that eventually wilted from being kept in the dark, the sin that keeps us hidden ultimately leads to death. Under the pressure of our own imperfections, we may begin to lose hope in the prospect of attaining unity with God, where our deepest longings are met. Such despair may cause us to wilt.
And yet, the Gospel changes it all in this very truth: “… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The radical truth is that Christ died for us: our sin – past, yes, present and future too – held Him to that rugged Cross on Calvary.
Time and again, when we do fall short of the glory of God, we are presented with a choice: we can hide our shame in the darkness, under the shadow of the good works we display, or we can accept the fullness of God’s love, bringing to Him every sin we struggle with. When we do so, we experience the incredible freedom of being fully known & fully loved.
This truth should extend to the way we approach Christian community, too. God desires that we spur on and love our neighbors, as is written: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
In Christian spaces, our tendency is to present only the parts of ourselves that are clean and resolved. However, such an image is incomplete. It is through our vulnerability and imperfections that Christ is proclaimed in our lives. We are living, walking, breathing testimonies not of our own sanctity, but of the grace and goodness of God. The sin we once hid can be brought to the sunlight for God to bring healing, yes, but beyond just that, to bring blossoming.
Marcella Villagomez is a sophomore at Yale majoring in Economics.