Living in Honest Christian Community: Take Off the Mask

Written by: Anne Peterson
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For a long time I wore the Christian mask. You know, the one with the smile, with every hair in place. People liked it when I wore my mask.

Never mind that it wasn’t the way I felt inside. Not only did I wear my mask but I learned the right lingo; I used the words others wanted to hear.

One day, I got tired of the pretense. I left my mask at home, and I made some people uncomfortable. They squirmed, some cringed; others pretended not to see me. But some people accepted me anyway. They were mature enough to see me as God does and allow me to be honest with them.

It’s true that many people want to be around others who are happy, put-together, confident. I can’t really blame them. The apostle Peter was the same way. Peter wanted to stay on a hilltop experience. Read Matthew 17:1-5. Peter wanted to erect tents and keep the mountaintop safe, secure and permanent, a retreat from the world with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. But God interrupted Peter’s idea. God said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Another time when Peter was with Jesus, James and John, Jesus asked his friends to stay with him, to be with him in his sadness. What happened?

Read Matthew 26:40-46. Jesus’disciples zoned out: they actually fell asleep! Not once or twice, but three times. The high, wonderful times were more appealing than the times of suffering for Jesus’disciples and for most of us. How did Jesus react to this? Did he write them off or pout? No. Jesus loved them when they let him down. He loves us when we fail too.

Even though I still struggle to share my brokenness with others, I’ve discovered that God can handle my emotion, my brokenness, my failures. I don’t need to hide from him. We can’t hide from him even if we tried. We don’t have to put on a good face. God sees our hearts.

We see in Jesus an example of living with honesty – you can always tell in Scripture when Jesus is joyful, angry or sad – he did not hide his emotions.

We cannot handle what comes our way alone. We need God and others in our lives. It is a temptation when things get rough to pull back and isolate. But even Jesus sought comfort from those around him. Let us have courage to live without the mask, and encourage those around us to live honestly as well.

After all, God knows everything we’re going to encounter today, so let’s take off our masks because the truth is, he can see right through them.

Check out an earlier post by Anne here.