[Willow Creek Association] 1999-05-19 - Wearing Masks

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

My oldest daughter and I were driving past the house where we lived until she was eight years old and I asked her, "Do you remember living in that house?" She said she did. So naturally I asked, "What do you remember?" Her reply struck me as odd, yet somehow profound. She said, "I remember my third birthday party in the backyard and you had a clown come and we all cried, because the clown scared us." What scared my daughter and her friends was the fact that they could not tell who was behind the mask.

Many of us grown ups wear masks everyday. Depending on the occasion or circumstance we throw on a mask to fit our need. We have become afraid of letting people see the real us. We are afraid of letting someone see our shortcomings out of the fear that they will not like or love us. At work we may throw on a mask of authority and power in order to seem in control. At home we may throw on a mask of contentment, a mask of everything is okay, out of fear our spouse may not love someone with problems. At church we throw on a mask of self-righteousness and pride, a mask of "I have this God stuff in my life together, so don't ask me how I am doing. I don't need any help; I don't want any fellowship with you people that are down and out. I am okay." Maybe we even have a mask of rationalization that we put on in compromising situations, a mask that shows the boys on the golf course "I am really just like you; this church stuff is just for Sundays."

On and on we go, shuffling our masks on and off from situation to situation, until one day our masks fail us. No matter how good you are at this game, eventually cracks develop from all the wear and tear of changing masks. As the cracks develop people start seeing the real you in-between the cracks. Some may even reach out to help, but that mask of pride, which has now become a prison of pride, will not allow anyone inside. All the masks will become prisons of guilt, resentment, self-centeredness and on and on. The prisons can become solitary confinement, locking out even God. In addition you lose your identity. You lose the core you, the real you.

If you find yourself in a prison built in your mind, built by your actions, built by losing the real you somewhere behind these masks. I urge you to pour your heart out to God and cast the masks upon Him. It's time to find the core you and to let others inside to help you. Let a pastor or Christian friend inside your walls to help you up.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIV) If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

It takes along time to build these prisons out of masks, so remember it will take time to tear them down. But I can guarantee that you will never get out, if you don't start today.

Father, help us to admit our shortcomings and our imperfections. Thank You for loving us at our worst. In Jesus' name, Amen.