Pastor Brian Gilroy,
High Prairie Church of the Nazarene.
People wear masks for a variety of reasons: COVID, hospital rules, celebrations like Mardi Gras, parades, and to hide their identity.
When we mention the idea of a person using a mask to disguise their identity, we often think of illegal acts such as robbers or superheroes using masks to conceal their identity like Batman.
The mask that I am referring to in this column is the mask that many of us greet the world with each day. We wear a mask that is intended to hide our true selves. A mask that prevents the world from seeing our pain, insecurities, our feelings of depression or failure and our shame.
The purpose of the mask is to give the world the impression that we are happy, confident, and have it all together when the truth is that the mask often hides our feelings of loneliness and desire to be desired by someone or a willingness to do whatever it takes to be loved.
This mask wearing is not confined to the non-church goer or those who identify themselves as Christians. If truth be told, you will find mask wearing people in every faith, belief or philosophy that exists. People so afraid that they are willing to do whatever it takes or follow any leader’s commands in order to experience love and/or value.
In Jesus’s time, we see Jesus looking behind the mask of the Pharisees or religious leaders. He saw beyond their power, prestige and piousness and referred to them as hypocrites.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” [Matthew 23:27-28]
CCOVID has torn the mask off a lot of people and exposed the truth behind the mask. However, others have held that mask in place with all their strength attempting to continue to live a life of outward success while enduring a dying inner self.
Jesus saw through the bravado of the Pharisees, and He sees behind your mask. Jesus saw the crowds and the pain they were going through and had compassion on them. He compared the struggles of life to a yoke or the restraining bar to control the movement of the oxen. He offered to heal the hurt behind and your mask.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29-30]
God’s love, His forgiveness, His grace, and mercy are meant to heal the bruises that the world has inflicted upon you. Jesus died on the cross to heal what no one else could heal, to forgive what no one else could forgive, and change your destiny from eternal death to eternal life beginning today with a new start –a life worth living and a reason to get up in the morning.
I can hear you saying, “But I have worn this mask for so long I am afraid to take it off. What if it does not work? I grew up in Sunday School and church and all I saw were hypocrites who worshipped well on Sunday but lived so differently the rest of the week that I am not convinced that God can really heal me.”
To this I say, people can wear masks even in church, but God never wears a mask, and the Bible shows that what He says He will do. He offers salvation and a change in relationship with Him to all who will believe.
“But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.” [John 1:12-13]
It is God who ca deliver upon this promise, and He does. Ask Him today to help you, heal you and forgive you. He will and everything will change.
The ultimate question for you to answer is: are you willing to take off your mask and let Jesus begin the healing you need and the restoration of your broken relationship with God due to sin or will you continue to hide behind the mask in an attempt to continue the façade that you present to the world each day?
Next week: Dan Cooper, Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.