As a kid, I looked forward to Halloween. Who wouldn’t? Masks and sugar (candy)! Later, there were occasional Halloweens with adult-level fun. Another good reason for drinking, in my opinion. Not that I needed a good reason. Or any reason. It was the same concept: masks and sugar (alcohol).
We love our Halloweens. The Halloween price tag in the U.S. was estimated at $8.4 billion in 2016. B-B-B-BILLION. That’s more than $1 for every person on the planet. For masks and sugar. The whole Halloween thing is lost on me these days. I haven’t lost my taste for sugar but I’ve lost my interest for masks. The idea of dressing up as someone else hits too close to home now.
I’ve been known to wear the masks of a successful business person, a joyful church member, a peaceful neighbor, a faithful and loving husband and father, a generous friend, a Jesus-seeker. When I’m spiritually-centered and unmasked, I will tell you who I really am: a wretched sinful man who has rightfully earned eternal hell and separation from God. Harsh? I think not. Apart from Jesus, this is my authentic identity. The command to “abide in Me” has eternal ramifications, so one should know who they are.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” – Lao Tzu
“Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. Judas could not face his shadow; Peter could. The latter befriended the impostor within; the former raged against him.” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child
Masks are daily attire for the human race. We put on our best face to appease the world, hide our true selves, and try to persuade everyone else that we’ve got it together. We do not have it together; we never have.
Luxury cars with price tags that could feed an entire town, single-family homes large enough to house 4 families, my custom-made shirts, designer clothes, designer nukes, designer babies, designer churches… all inauthentic images we want others to see. Just the other day I heard a professional baseball player got a 4-year contract worth $64 million. I am stunned at the insanity. No one is worth $64 million dollars, especially for playing a game.
“We try so hard to make ourselves lovable, and yet each layer of this mask puts another wall around us – a wall that keeps love out.” – Vironika Tugaleva
“Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.” – Mark Twain
In the midst of it all, the citizens of the world cry out for authenticity.
One of the many appealing aspects of Jesus is His authenticity. Jesus shunned masks, and pointed out those who used masks to the disadvantage and detriment of the people Jesus came to save. Those of us who claim to be Jesus-followers should be no less authentic.
Perhaps we must learn to lay down our masks… then take up our cross.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23