I have been studying the New Testament and Jesus interactions with people and something is troubling my heart. It goes beyond what I know I “should” do– I should be more authentic with people, I should be the same person at home as I am in the church, I should never act self righteous or more spiritual then others. Oh, there are many– should do’s in Christianity that are too often: can’t do’s or won’t do’s. But this is bigger then a “should”, this is a must.
You see, as I study the many people that encountered Jesus throughout His ministry I have concluded that Jesus dealt with sinners, for the most part in a very universal way. He was compassionate towards them. Whether it be the adulterous woman, a tax collector, the rich young ruler, the demon possessed, those with various illnesses needing healing or the robber next to him on the cross– His heart for sinners was always to call them towards repentance. (Mark 2:17)
Jesus dined with sinners over supper and conversed with them in the daylight; this act alone infuriated the legalistic pharisees, and if we are honest– sometimes infuriates the church today. There was one group of people that Jesus took a drastically different tone with, with whom Jesus spoke harshly and severely condemned He called them: fools, hypocrites, blind guides, murders, snakes, serpents. He even called these Jewish law abiding citizens– children of the DEVIL (gasp!). Jesus spoke very few kind words to the pharisees.
Jesus was angry fore mostly at the pharisees because they pretended to be what they weren’t. They performed religious rituals and acted as if they were close to God, when in reality their hearts were hardened, their ears were deaf, and they had no genuine relationship with the Father. Jesus was angry because their self righteous condemned those he was trying to teach, in other words, the illusion they portrayed was damaging to His ministry.
Jesus didn’t condemn those who admitted their faults, He freely forgave them. He extended compassion, and grace, and mercy to those who admitted they were helpless to fix themselves. To those who admitted their need for healing. To those who admitted their need for a Savior. Romans 5:20 tells us that where sin abounds, grace abounds more. And truly, sin abounds in the heart of every believer, every day, even the most spiritual among us. So why are we so tempted cover up, hide and mask our struggles?
It’s time to peel away the mask. It’s time we live authentically, it’s time we share our difficulties with others– you might be surprised, as I have been, in those moments of genuine transparency to hear “me too” from fellow strugglers. We must take off our masks if we want to be please the Lord. I’m not saying air all of your dirty laundry, I’m saying– be real. Quit intentionally portraying yourself as one who is cleaned up on the outside, if inside, your heart is a mess. Don’t pretend to be what you’re not. Don’t give in to the temptation to cover up your weakness with religious penance, rituals or serving others. Come as you are to Jesus, mess and all, and allow him to visibly transform you in front of others.
What mask can you take off today? What’s keeping you from doing so? I challenge you to give words to one of the masks your are currently wearing in the comments box below, be specific, and allow God to help you with a baby step to authentic living right here, right now.