Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mask

Luke 12:2-3 (The Message) “You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. 3 You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

The mask: A defense mechanism worn to hide one’s true feelings, demeanor, or self from others. We who wear them are hiding so many things.  For example, fear. We are afraid of failure so we put a confident mask on so that no one can see us shaking underneath!

Another example is pain. We want the ones who hurt us to think that we are doing fine, despite the fact that we have been seriously stabbed in the back and are bleeding emotionally all over. We don the mask of happiness and will smile and even move on to other relationships while secretly dying inside.

The third example I give I will call “religiosity”. This mask is a completely different kind of mask and worn for numerous reasons. I have even worn this mask for a period of time. Why? Because as a leader, I did not want anyone to know what I was dealing with underneath so I donned the mask of religiosity to make up for the deteriorated relationship with God. Others wear this mask to impress or pleas men (man-pleasers), or to work, work, work, and they substitute work for God for a relationship with God. These people are easy to spot because while they have a great resume, they have no power. They can’t “pray themselves out of a brown paper bag” as my pastor used to say. Others use the religiosity mask for ambitious purposes but once they hit the top, they usually fall flat on their faces… and tend to take a lot of people down with them.

The thing about any mask, and there are countless more we could talk about, is that they are not foundational or permanent. The can be removed, put back on, traded, upgraded, and painted at a whim. They can be broken too!

God’s word says, in Luke 12, that all masks will be removed and everything in the dark will eventually be brought to light. That means fear will be called out. Pain will be brought to light, and YES, religiosity will be dealt with. Why does all this happen? Is it a punishment?

The answer is: NO! None of it is a punishment. I know that it is hard to remove a mask and face our vulnerability, and admit our shortcomings or deficiencies. We don’t want others to know that we are inadequate. But God reveals our true selves to us for our own good. Paul had the same problem in 2 Corinthians 12.  Here we see that he had a problem that would not go away.  He asked God 3 times to take the “thorn from is side” but God did not take it away. Instead he replied “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV)

The Loop: God cannot intervene until we give our inadequacies to Him. Why?  Because when we are trying to don the mask, we are still wrestling for control. When we cover it up, we are still in denial that we need a savior! The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession cannot occur until we admit our faults. Then God can forgive us, repair us, and extend His grace to us, and only then can we truly be strong! We can rest in the truth that we are inadequate and insufficient but that HE is all sufficient.

If you need to lay down your mask, all you have to do is pray and repent. Confess to Him your shortcomings and ask Him to cover you with His grace and mercy. I promise you, it will be such a relief to take off the mask and just be who HE made you to be. No more, no less.
God bless you and please know that I am praying for you and love you, but there is a friend that loves you more than a brother!

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