This hit me square between the eyes yesterday morning at church. I was attending a service at Calvary Baptist in Tuscaloosa. After some awesome praise music, the pastor said something like this (I wish I could remember the exact words): "It's our goal that you see someone from Calvary, they're the same person no matter where you run into them."
Wow! What a tremendous picture of Christ that would be for the world. Imagine someone seeing you at work. At the ball game. With your family at home. At a concert. With your friends on Friday night. At church. And no matter where they encounter you, they see an authentic person living life without pretense or a shred of hypocrisy. A fellowship of people like that would be so attractive that everyone would want to be a part of it.
For you see, we all expect masks. And we are sick of them. We know that we have a face for our friends, a face for our family, a face for Sunday morning...even an online face for facebook and twitter. Jesus used the word "hypocrite" which was not meant to be an insult...it was simply the word for "actor". He was talking about living your life as if you are an actor on a stage, playing a part. Which is no way to live. Which is why we consider it a derogatory term.
The concept is all through our culture. A key song in Phantom of the Opera (where a mask is almost a character in itself) is sung by the chorus at the opening of the second act. It says, in part:
Masquerade! Paper faces on parade. Masquerade!Yep, it's all around us.
Hide your face, so the world will never find you!
Masquerade! Every face a different shade. Masquerade!
Look around - there's another mask behind you!
This is the beauty of the life Christ brings us. When we connect with the source of life, we can live the way we were intended to. We don't have to pretend. It's so awesome to know God wants to know ME! Not some image that I've created because I think it's what he wants. The real me, warts and all. and then he wants to transform the real me into the likeness of his Son. Amazing!
One final thought: God wants us to help each other on this journey. We can't do it alone. And the only way that will happen is if we are real with each other. If I go to church and put on my church mask, or act differently around my Christian friends than I do other places, those masks will keep me from being what I was meant to. I can't say it nearly as well as Casting Crowns, so take a listen:
Are you for real??