I have not been out in public much since the start of quarantine (the last time I was in a store was March 12), but the few times I have gone to pick up take-out with my mom have been kind of strange. I haven’t needed to wear a mask yet since I just stay in the car, but everyone around me is always wearing one. It’s kind of an odd thing to see people who aren’t doctors or dentists wearing masks. I’ve seen groups of people on the news wearing masks, people driving their cars with masks, even a guy mowing his lawn with a mask (like, dude…who’s going to come near you when you’re on a lawnmower??).
Now, I think that that kind of mask is a good thing. While they may be uncomfortable and I personally think they make people look like ill-intentioned bandits, they can be a good protection for us should we come in contact with the virus. We need to follow guidelines and do whatever is best for our health and the health of those around us. However, I’m afraid that the Church is wearing a different kind of mask–a spiritual mask that is stifling our growth and restricting our influence. In fact, I believe there are three different spiritual masks that we need to take off in order to be who Christ desires us to be.
The first mask I fear the Church is masquerading is the mask of grumbling and arguing. I’ll be honest–this is the sin I most often let go unchecked in my life. I said something the other day as my family was sitting in the living room, and my dad responded with, “man, you’re always so negative.” It hit me hard because it’s true. I complain about everything. I complain about people, about my situation, even about the food in the refrigerator when I should just be thankful for what I have. I let my words be tainted and dimmed by the lies and negativity of the enemy.
I wonder… what would happen if the Church spoke life to one another instead of complaining? What would happen if we chose to stand united instead of bickering, arguing, and fighting with one another? What if we decided to use our words to build each other up instead of tearing each other down?
Paul says in the book of Philippians, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” (ch. 2 v. 14-15 HCSB).
We were meant to shine like stars in the world, Church. But I fear that we’ve allowed the world to dim our light with this mask of grumbling and arguing. Our negativity prohibits us from truly shining and stifles our unity.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
There is power in the tongue and the words we speak. We may need cloth masks to protect our physical health, but we need to remove the mask of grumbling and arguing so that our love may shine in its fullness and bring societal healing. Bitterness brings division, but love always restores and unites. Let us be careful to speak the Truth–the whole Truth of the gospel–and nothing but the Truth. Let’s remove the mask of grumbling and arguing.
The second kind of “spiritual mask” I believe God is calling us to take off is the mask of a stormtrooper. You may be wondering how I can use the words spiritual and stormtrooper in the same sentence, but let me explain.
The “stormtrooper mask” of the Church is the mask we use to hide our personalities and our true selves. It’s the mask of conformity. Just like FN-2187 in The Force Awakens, we’re taught by the enemy to conform to the world’s standard and suppress any personal differences. We’re pressured to cover up all of our imperfections with a mask and simply march in line with everybody else. There’s no room for imperfection, questioning the status quo, or doing something new.
But we weren’t created to be confined to the shadows of our shame, the dungeons of our doubts, or the umbrella of our uniqueness. We are meant to shine–to go into all the world–to do great things for God even if they’ve never been done before! When Christ died on the cross for us, He gave us a way out of the enemy’s army. We are now Christian soldiers, marching on with the cross of Jesus as our banner. We’re called to be “one in hope and doctrine, one in charity,” as the third verse of the song goes. But not one in personality. That’s the beauty of Christ’s army–the beauty of His Church. We’ve all been given the freedom to be different even as we stand united.
Just as FN-2187 was given the name of Finn when he took off his mask and rebelled against the status quo, so has Christ given each of us a unique name and personality. We’re not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life as a number–thank God for that! He calls us by our names–each and every one of us. Let’s take off the mask of conformity and instead put on Christ’s helmet of salvation.
The third mask I believe to be stifling our Christian walk is that of guilt and shame. We let our sin keep us out of the presence of God even though Christ’s sacrifice has already torn the veil. We don’t have to live ashamed of our past or try to cover up past mistakes with artificial grace. We as God’s children are forgiven and free. We can come before Him just as we are–no masks–because He has already accepted us.
“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 CSB)
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in a time of need. The world is in crisis mode and many are hurting. Let’s take off the masks and come boldly yet humbly to the Throne Room. God doesn’t want the fake you, or the you that says you’re fine but you’re really not. He wants the real you in all of your brokenness, trouble, and mistakes. Run to Him freely like a child to a Father.
Instead of keeping a “six feet” distance away from God, let’s worship Him with every six steps just as David did and dance in His presence (2 Samuel 6:13-14).
Let us as the global Church choose today to take off these three masks–the masks of grumbling and arguing (tainted truth), conformity, and guilt– because God has called us to be a city on a hill. Revival can’t and won’t happen until the people of God decide to shine as a light in the world. However, when we have the humility to stand united with others, the confidence to be who God intended us to be, and the healthy fear of the Lord that compels us to spend time in His presence, the world will take notice and God will be glorified.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Let’s unmask the Church.
- Which of these three masks have you been wearing recently? Perhaps all of them?
- What do you think could happen if we allow God to remove these masks?