Why Do Christians Routinely Hide behind Masks?

Earlier this summer, I began posting devotionals I had written a few years back at the request of the leaders of a team of Judson University students traveling to India for a short-term missions project.  The theme of the trip was the general topic of reflections.

TrueFacedThis is the sixth of the seven short meditations, and it came on the heels of my having read one of the handful of books that I can honestly say changed my life.  I have referenced it in this blog before, and I encourage any Christians who want to face our tendency to pretend we are flawless and have all our stuff together to grab a copy of TrueFaced and give it a read.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Here are the devotional thoughts I offered in the aftermath of digesting this short but important work and coming face to face with my own tendency to live my life behind a mask of piety and stoicism.

“Being True-Faced”

Galatians 3:5 – “Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?” (The Message)

We discussed a few days ago that the eyes are the windows to our souls.  Windows reflect—in certain lighting, anyway—but they are primarily transparent.  We see through them into another realm.  Christians should be windows; we should be transparent with each other and with a dying world that desperately needs to hear our Good News.  Then why is it so hard to be honest with each other about our struggles with sin?

Recently I read a fabulous little book entitled TrueFaced.  Although I can’t do justice to it in a one-page devotional, the gist of the book is that we all come to a fork in the road in our lives; sometimes we come to it daily.  One side takes us down the path of Pleasing God, while the other takes us down the path of Trusting God.  Although they both sound desirable, when we start to travel the road of Pleasing God, we end up entering the Room of Good Intentions through the door of Human Effort, and we end up miserable, because, as Paul tells us in the verse above, our “strenuous moral striving” gets us nowhere.  “Our righteousness is like filthy rags,” Scripture tells us (Is. 64:6).

In contrast, when we head down the road of Trusting God, we end up entering the room of Grace via the door of Humility, and we find that those assembled there are “standing with God, with [their] sin right in front of [them], working on it together.”  In other words, God stands with each of us, viewing the hideous ca-ca of our lives, and it doesn’t cause Him to flinch, run away, or reject us.  Instead, he acknowledges the sin, and gives us the strength, one day at a time, as the folks in AA would say, to work on it with Him.

1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  And what’s worse, those on the outside of the Christian faith are affected by our dishonesty.  Mike Yaconelli (one last time) says,

What we don’t understand is that when people look at the Church and see only imposters, they conclude that Jesus is an imposter.  . . . The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws.  The Church is not made up of the whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.

Prayer for today:

Gracious God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us mercy and peace, that we might be honest with You and with each other, and affect the world with the Truth of the grace that sustains us.  Amen.

The Lord be with you!

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