Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why the mask?...

Week 46:
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you should put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Another translation of this verse says, “…put off false personas”.  Other translations in some way say, “…stop lying”.  I want to spend some time looking at why we put on the “falsehood” with our brothers and sisters.
How many times have I been caught up in something at home that was really consuming and would knock me off my game so to speak?  It’s now time to go to church and my family and I walk in and put on the smiles.  When people ask, “How are you?”…the response is, “Fine”, or “Good”.  What a lie!  What a masking of what is going on in my life that is! 
Why do I wear the mask?  Why would I not be truthful?  What are the reasons behind this?  Is this something you do as well?  Or how about this…I pass someone with whom I have an issue in the church hall.  As I am passing, I know I do not really want to see this person, but it is unavoidable.  As we pass, we smile and say, “Hi”, without mentioning a thing about our issue.  Is the issue gone?  Absolutely not!  In fact, I might be even more uncomfortable about my issue with this person.  What is that all about? 

I believe there are several reasons I do this.  First, in our western church thought over the last few generations, I have been taught that church people are supposed to be “nice”.  From that teaching, I have learned to “fake it” with people.  I know Jesus wants us to be kind and the Apostle Paul even mentioned the thought of if it is up to us, we are to get along with each other.  If I read the above passage correctly, I do not think putting on a mask is what they had in mind.
Secondly, in Christian settings, I have left myself vulnerable and have gotten hurt.  I have been hurt by well meaning people who had “advice” for me.  I have been hurt by people relating my story to others through gossip and/or just having loose lips.  After a few of those situations, I lose trust and tell myself, “That won’t happen again…it hurt too much…I’ll keep my mouth shut and protect my heart.” 
Thirdly, I fear what others will think about me if I was transparent.  I have judgments about those who wear their feelings on their sleeve and take part in “drama”.  Now, there are times where “drama” is overkill but, what I have done is to take those situations and applied to my life the thought that if I share what is going on I will appear “dramatic”.  I also have a fear of what someone might think of me if I am transparent.  Will they accept me?  Will they shun me?  Also, if I share where I am, will I end up hurting them? 
So, what do I do now?  How do I put of the falsehood?  First, I believe first in starting small.  I need to start with those close to me and be open and transparent.  I meet with a group of men weekly who do this.  Now this is not a gripe group, or a feel good group…just a group of men who are authentic with each other through speaking the truth, confession, sharing and owning emotions, and genuine prayer for one another.  I have heard men talk about this group being what church is supposed to be like.  I’m not saying we replace the church with this kind of group work, but that we incorporate what we are doing into our lives so deeply that the church is affected.  So, find a group where you can be authentic and receive grace for that…where truth is welcomed and not shunned.  Secondly, incorporate this into your life.  Own how you feel, own your truth, and speak truthfully about your state of mind.  Recognize those times where you are “faking it”.  Allow others close to you to call you on your false persona.
Why is this important?  Look at the last of the verse.  “…for we are all members of one body.”  A body does not work when it fights against itself.  One part of the body affects the whole body.  When I put on my false self, I affect those around me.  It is time to drop the walls and the masks and be real.
“Therefore each of you should put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
1.      If you were to name or describe your mask or false persona, what would the name or description be?
2.      When does this mask or persona show up most?
3.      Why do you think you hide behind it?
4.      In what ways do you believe our current church system has fostered this type of behavior?
5.      Ask Jesus this week to point out to you where you put on the false self.  Ask him to help you to take that mask off.


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