Summary: Identifying and Removing Masks - How to remove the facade to be transparent and genuine

Identifying and Removing Masks (Matt 7:1,2)

Illustration:I recently read about an old man, walking the beach at dawn, who noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. ’But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,’ countered the man. ’How can your effort make any difference?’ The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. ’It makes a difference to this one,’ he said."

Hugh Duncan, Leadership Journal.

A). THE MASK OF TRADITION - Some people carry an illusion in their minds that as long as one is living consistently according to their forefathers’ identities, roles and responsibilities, they will be all right. Jesus made it clear that those who hold their traditions higher than the oracles of God are hypocrites. They tend to use their traditions for an excuse for not loving people. Often, traditions can hinder people from seeing God as He really is. Behind the mask of tradition, people hide many feelings of inadequacy.

B). THE MASK OF CULTURE - Many questionable activities have been carried out in the name of culture. Some people assume that as long as their actions fit the culture of their fellowship, they will be all right. However, a cultural mask can be a pretense for hiding something that we do not want outsiders to know about. One man I met in Nigeria insisted that polygamy is so embedded in his culture that the church should allow polygamists to occupy positions as elders. When the church finally consented, that chief took control of the church and turned it into a cultural extension of his own beliefs and practices.

C). THE MASK OF POSITION - Throughout the world, people are scrambling to get into positions of power, influence and authority. People often hope that once they get this position they will be able to do what really pleases them. However, the superficiality of this mask wears off quickly when one looks at the track record of people who used it as a pretense for their selfish actions. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "The Scribes and Pharisees are occupying Moses’ seat; therefore do not be like them. They do not practice what they preach. They conduct their activities to be noticed by men. For they enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their fringes. They cherish the chief place at dinners and the best seats in the synagogues…you hypocrites, all of this is done as a pretext for piety and yet you cheat widows out of their houses. For this you will receive greater judgment. (Matthew 23)

D). THE MASK OF POWER - It has become a fact that some people try to intimidate others with their displays of power. This has happened inside and outside of many well-meaning churches. Ananias and Sapphira thought they could win favor in the eyes of God and men by offering money to the early church. They could have retained the proceeds from the sale of their property, but they colluded with each other to lie. They said that they had given all the money in order that they may rely on God. In actuality, they had given only a part of the money. They coveted power more than anything. God is displeased with the mask of dishonesty, deceit and greed to cover over our desire for the power of wealth and leadership. God wants to strip away the masks of power in order to us rely on His power. The masks of power or wealth will quickly fade away.

E. THE MASK OF SPIRITUALITY - Some people are eager to pray publicly. They love to be seen by others as capable of assuming spiritual influence. One day Jesus made an observation of such a group of people when He said, "You Pharisees pray long prayers and you love to be in public places before men. Alas, for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you traverse sea and land to make one proselyte and when he becomes one, you make him a son of perdition twice worse than yourselves. (Matthew 23:23-29)

F). THE MASK OF ACTIVITY - It is common to see well meaning members of the reactionary religious right stay active in their service for the church. However, often these duties can cause them to shirk their more important responsibility to spend time alone with God or time devoted to their families. These people often wear their activity masks as a way of showing people they are zealous. They expect others to rise to their level of spirituality. Those who are not able to keep up with their frantic pace are left behind in the dust, ignored, forgotten or deserted. Inwardly, they may feel a deep sense of insecurity that they are trying to compensate for addiction to good works.

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