Taking Off the Mask

“The mask I wear”

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks
masks that I’m afraid to take off
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me
But don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm
and I’m in command,
and that I need no one.
But don’t believe me. Please!
My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this.
I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weaknesses
and fear exposing them.
That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.
They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
my only salvation,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
and if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself
from my own self-built prison walls.

I dislike hiding, honestly
I dislike the superficial game I’m playing,
the superficial phony game.
I’d really like to be genuine and me.
But I need your help, your hand to hold
Even though my masks would tell you otherwise
That glance from you is the only thing that assures me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this.
I don’t dare.
I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh
and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good
and you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a facade of assurance without
And a trembling child within.
So begins the parade of masks,
The glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s nothing
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying
Please listen carefully and try to hear
what I’m not saying
Hear what I’d like to say
but what I cannot say.

It will not be easy for you,
long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
the blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
you wonder who I am
you shouldn’t
for I am everyman
and everywoman
who wears a mask.
Don’t be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.

author unknown

Masks

Taking off the Masks
Wearing a mask brings certain comforts, but it also may hinder our personal growth. As long as we wear the mask we don’t have to deal with the underlying problem. But when we are truly able to confront the truth about ourselves we will find true freedom. We can find healing. We can find an answer to the weaknesses that plague us.

Scripture
2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Some key truths from this verse and the Life of Paul:

  • Paul did not need to hear kind words from his friends. His life and ministry was already reflecting God’s glory.
  • Paul revealed his weaknesses. And in doing so, he also revealed the reality and the power of Jesus. Paul was weak, but the Spirit of God was constantly at work in him. Jesus is not revealed in a person by their human perfection but rather by God transforming us into His image.
  • Paul’s life was not one of “see how good I am.” On the contrary, his life was “see what God is doing in a sinner (Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners).” We are all sinners with all the ugliness of sin, bent and twisted out of shape, far from being the persons we want to be, or that God intends us to be (Romans 3:23).
  • Our transformation comes from the Holy Spirit. God is in the process of working His transformation in us. “We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 The truth is, when we take off the masks and are honest with ourselves and Go, he takes our fears, our weaknesses, our sinful ugliness and transforms us to look like Him. When we fail to do so we put on a mask and we no longer reflect the love, grace and joy of Christ. One of the names that Jesus called the pharisees was that of a hypocrite, or a whitewashed tombstone.

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

What is a hypocrite?
A hypocrite is someone who says one thing, but then acts in the opposite way. The word hypocrite is a Greek word that was used to describe an actor. In Greek theatre an actor would put on a mask and pretend to be someone else. These actors were called hypocrites. That doesn’t mean they were bad people. It was just their job. 

Today, we might call a person a hypocrite when they pretend to be something they aren’t, or when they do things just to fit in. But Jesus points out that there is an even more problematic kind of hypocrite: a religious hypocrite.

What is a religious hypocrite?
A religious hypocrite is someone who preaches one thing, but does the opposite. And unfortunately, there are a lot of religious hypocrites in our churches and youth groups. 

These kind of hypocrites will talk a good game about honoring God and doing the right thing, but will then do the opposite when they are around another group of people. They would rather be liked or popular than honor God. Or, a religious hypocrite will condemn people for doing certain sins, even though they do those same sins, or even worse sins, in secret.

Jesus doesn’t like hypocrites
Throughout his time on earth Jesus condemned religious hypocrites.

Matthew 6:2 “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.”

Here he was talking about people who make a big deal of themselves every time they serve or help someone. They always have to write about it on Facebook or Instagram, and make sure everyone knows what they did. This shows that their hearts aren’t focused on serving, but on receiving praise for their actions.

Matthew 6:5 When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

These are hypocrites who use fancy words when they pray. They act like they know everything about God in conversations or small group. Jesus is saying that these people are just wearing a mask. They look good on the outside, but inside they are rotten. But Jesus didn’t just come to condemn hypocrisy or we would all be in trouble. He came to free us from hypocrisy.

Choose authenticity over hypocrisy
People often act like hypocrites because they are afraid of what people will think about them if they knew what they were really like. But here is the good news. You don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to pretend to be something you are not.

We are all messed up, and God loves us and forgives us in the midst of our messed up ways. We can be real with God. We can be authentic. And if you are acting like a hypocrite. Stop it. Admit it to God, admit it to a church leader and friend. Ask God for forgiveness, and embrace authenticity.

Don’t try and be someone you’re not at church or in your small group….or at work, home, school, wherever…. Be authentic. It’s what God wants for you.

One of the major hangups we as Christians run into in our walk with God is we think change happens from the outside-in. “I’ve given my heart to the Lord and I’ve made all of these outward changes for Him, but my heart still feels heavy and burdened. I still feel angry, bitter and there’s no peace in my mind or heart?” However, true change occurs on the inside first. God’s word is is clear about how He will renew our hearts and minds if we ask Him to: Psalm 51:10, Ezekial 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2. We must allow God to come into our innermost beings and transform us from the inside-out.

Making It Personal
So, what are some of the masks you wear? Why? How would things change if you were to take off this mask and let God deal with the true fears and issues that lie underneath? What is a real way that you can take off this mask? Is there someone you can talk in honesty that can help keep you accountable?

Say a prayer to God to help you to deal with the underlying issue so that you can more fully reveal his likeness and glory in your life!   

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