how does it begin?
the mask. i don’t think it’s isolated to religious circles. i sat alone in a bistro today, eating my lunch, and next to me two young adults engaged in casual conversation. the superficiality of the chatter was surprising, even to this cynic. masks are worn everywhere.
but where it strikes me the most is in church. i grew up in church. and to be clear, i count that as a blessing. but i don’t understand when church stopped being a place where i could truly be me. where i could bring my reality whether glorious or disgusting, and where – most importantly – i could bring my sins to lay at the feet of Jesus.
all have sinned and fallen short. i don’t think we missed that memo. and to be honest, i had diagnosed the church quite handily as only wanting good, clean folks in the pews, but i don’t believe that’s really true. i think as Christians we want to be open to sinners. we want to welcome those who need to find Jesus with warmth and love, and we don’t mind exercising some grace towards those who are still on the beginning of their journey with Him.
but who are we when we show up at that same alter? who are we when we approach that same merciful Jesus that we present to fallen mortals in desperate straits? how does the outside of the cup compare to what it contains?
forgive me if i have to pause and breathe. it doesn’t seem like a hard line of questioning at first, perhaps, but really… it is daunting to be real.
to me the irony appears in the fact that One and only One knows my innards. so i can hide all day long from my family, my friends or my fellow Christians that i struggle with an addiction, or i yell too much at my kids, or i read trashy books, or whatever… but the only ONE that matters already knows. so why hide?
this is where it gets complicated. all have sinned, right? so we should be on level ground, able to minister to each other in our own personal weaknesses. but it’s awkward. it’s embarrassing to tell you my problem when i don’t know for sure that you have any. because, you know, your mask is truly beautiful.
maybe it’s the lucky few that are exposed publicly for sin. stripping away any pretense of goodness is a strange thing to call a gift, but being able to say “i’m rotten to the core” carries with it the freedom to bow out and let Jesus step in. wearing the mask is exhausting.
i have three young children. it’s interesting to observe a child (particularly a free-spirited one, like my middle son) who feels unencumbered by public opinion. his flaws are as obvious as his gifts. his passion and his disgust and his delight all crash out into the open every day… every moment as he LIVES.
please, my precious boy, don’t ever put on a mask. don’t ever learn that others will pretend to be perfect and look down at you with disdain. don’t ever notice the hypocritical sanction of private sin amidst the loud decrying of public sin. i hope you wear your sins right out front where Jesus can reach them easily, where those who love you can help you get out from under them, and where you can’t deny them so you won’t ever be surprised to find trouble lurking because you believed the mask to be the real you.
the mask that is built can be torn off.