Casting Crowns wrote a song ‘Stained Glass Masquerade’ about how, in general, Christians are very good at disguising how they are. We don’t like to admit our weakness, out of fear that others will look down on us. We live thinking we are the only one going through whatever we are going through, that no-one else could be struggling with the same things we are struggling with. So we hide it away. We pretend everything is great. If we say it enough we even begin to believe it ourselves. But that doesn’t get the problem solved. It just leaves it there to grow and get worse and worse until it breaks us.
Particularly in today’s ‘perfect body/size zero’ obsessed media culture it is very hard to admit to your weakness. It’s not just an issue for Christians. All over the world there are broken, hurting people longing to cry out for help, but afraid they will be shunned. So they keep it to themselves. They paint a mask that all is okay. But inside it’s not. So they turn to drink or drugs to make it feel better. In some cases it gets so bad they feel they’d be better taking their own life rather than just talk about it. Because they feel they can’t talk about.
But the truth is we all have weaknesses. We all stumble over certain things. And if we’re honest, we probably all try to hide it. Why? Because we know we will be condemned by the world, by other Christians even, if we do. What does Jesus have to say about the culture of condemning those brave enough to admit their weaknesses? “First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friends eye.” (Matthew7v5)
The next time you are about to criticise someone stop and think about the log in your own eye first. Maybe if we as Christians were more welcoming to those with problems people would feel more comfortable about opening up, people with problems would feel more welcome in church, we would see an increase in church attendance and a decrease in suicide rates.
The truth is, God wants us to open up. He wants us to be able to admit our weaknesses, as it is through our admitting that He is able to forgive. Check out this passage from 1 John1v9-10: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”
And how should we react when our Christian brothers and sisters share their trouble with them. Certainly not with condemnation (Remember Matt7). Rather with love. We should be there for them in their struggle, helping them through it, and even learning from it so that we don’t fall into the same trap ourselves. Galatians 6v1-2 says this “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
So yes, in church situations most of us are very good at putting on a mask of righteousness and living the lie that we are okay. But what about outside of church? Do we wear masks then? I would say most of us do. I would say most Christians, when surrounded by non-Christian friends, are more than capable of disguising it. Not necessarily by taking part in activities that compromise your Christian beliefs, but through how you converse with people. By what you say, or by what you don’t say when compared to what you would say in Church/ with Christian friends. How many of your friends actually know you are a Christian? How visible is it to the world around you? How much time would someone have to spend with you before it became apparent that you are living for God? Are you hiding your Christianity behind a mask today? The simple fact is that we can’t afford to. We are the body of Christ. We have to let his light shine in the world. If not us, who else? We cannot be ashamed of Jesus. Mark 8 v38 warns us “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Don’t be ashamed. Strip away the masks today.