Behind the Mask  

 

The Halloween season is upon us, and I know that there are many among us who have mixed feelings about its observance. For some it is an evil holiday that celebrates paganism, demons, and the like. For others it is a time of candy and costumes and genuine fun with no spiritual ties whatsoever. I will admit that I am not a fan of Halloween in itself, but I do enjoy the candy and dressing up like my favorite fictional characters.

There is something about wearing a mask that is freeing. We can be whoever we want to be when we put a mask on. When I put a Batman mask on, I am Batman. Even when I put on my Starfleet uniform (yes I have one, don’ judge me) I am Captain James T. Kirk. The point is that such outfits or disguise take us from being the people that we often feel we are to being the people we sometimes wish we were, even if they are fictional.

Halloween is not the only time of year that we dress up. To be honest, I see more masks on Sundays than I do on any October 31st. We all wear masks in our lives. I know this to be true since I grew up in church where, as the pastor’s kid, I had to be perfect, setting an example for all of the other kids. I became an expert at plastering on a fake smile while I was secretly dying inside, longing for someone to help me bear my burdens.

We like to pretend that we have it all together. After all, we are Christians, which should mean that we are to be happy all the day. Is that really the calling of the Christian life? Are we never supposed to struggle or share such things with the family of God? It is sad that it has become expected to wear masks in church rather than being real people who are recovering sinners.

There is a big reason that Christians are so often accused of being hypocritical; it is because we often are. We live in a hurting world that is struggling to overcome sin, but there is no place for sinners among the “perfect” people in the pews. We need to show one another and the world that we are willing to be real. We must be willing to remove our masks and be the people that God has created and loves and whom He isconforming to the image of Christ.

It is okay to be imperfect; there is no one righteous other than Christ. What would happen if we were to be vulnerable about our true selves with the Church and the world? I think that we might see people more willing to respond to a Gospel that saves sinners rather than puffs up the pious. Our God is a God of love, and we were created to be authentic people of love. Let us take off our masks and reveal our true identities to all.

Your Servant in Christ,
Pastor Ryan