Summary: Some people are looking for masks to be able to hide their inner sense of inadequacies. Others are looking for masks that can make them into the cultural image of someone great. Still others are looking for identities that will make themselves acceptable
``We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’’ (2 Cor. 10:5)
Some people are looking for masks to be able to hide their inner sense of inadequacies. Others are looking for masks that can make them into the cultural image of someone great. Still others are looking for identities that will make themselves acceptable in the eyes of their culture. Perhaps most tragically, many are looking to use Christianity as a mask in order to appear acceptable in the eyes of God and men. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for putting on their hypocritical masks of religion. Listen to what he told them about their masquerades:
`When you fast, do not be sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to show other their fasting. I assure you, they have received their full reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that no one except your heavenly Father who is there in the secret place may notice your fasting. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’’ (Matt. 6:16-18)
Pride as a Mask
1. The pride of power wants power to gain security for self or to maintain a
power position considered to be secure.
2. Intellectual pride rises from human knowledge that pretends to be
ultimate knowledge. It presumes to be final truth.
3. Moral pride claims that it’s standards for virtue test and measure all
righteousness. Neibuhr observed that most evil is done by "good" people who
do not know that they are not good.
4. Spiritual pride is self-glorification. It claims that "self’s
righteousness" conforms to God’s righteousness.
John K. Bergland, Abingdon Preacher’s Annual 1992, Nashville:
Abingdon, 1991, p. 322
Many religions, cultures, and certain personalities honor fasting for its great sacrifice, but Jesus knew that it could be used as a mask for empty spiritualizing. Some people think that fasting can draw special notice from God, men, and oneself to the higher spiritual powers. In actuality fasting has been used by many as a mask of spiritual piety falsely. Jesus condemned any practice that was used as an ostentatious parade of piety.
Fasting, like many masks that people use today are vain attempts to move God to liberate them from their distresses. Some people look at fasting as a special charm to get the favor of God. Fasting is looked at by some religions as an extra special way of gaining personal, tribal, and national penitence.
Legitimately, spiritual fasting may have this effect of diverting disasters in seeking forgiveness from God. But it is often looked at as a manipulative tool to bribe God into doing special favors. Fasting like masks (Real and Imaginary Ones) are used extensively throughout the world, but especially in Africa to put on certain identities. Here is a story to illustrate the wrong ideas about using fasting as a religious masquerade:
Story - Once a traveller found an old religious looking priest walking through the streets of the crowded streets of the capital city. Since few religious people frequented this part of the city, the man became curious and asked the elderly religious man a question. ``What are you looking for in the market places and the streets of this dirty city?’’ The old man turned to him with a disheveled look on his face and said, ``I am seeking the face of an unpretentious man!’’ The traveller looked at the priest and said, `
`What do you mean by that?’’ To which the priest replied, ``I have lived in a monastery all of my life thinking that was the way to greater holiness, but I was wrong! The reason I went to the monastery in the first place was the fact that I would not have to wear a mask of pretentious piety. But after 40 years, I can see that I have just as many masks now as when I went in. Now I am looking for someone who is willing to show me how to remove my masks. I want to be able to see God clearly without having to wear any masks.’’ This puzzled the traveller since he only thought of physical masks used for juju, dodo, or ancestral worship. Then the priest spoke for the last time, ``I want to meet a man in whom there is no guile with nothing to hide, and purely transparent.’’ The man turned to the priest and said, ``Well, you are obviously looking in the wrong place!’’
Application: If we disappoint people who are looking for a glimpse of the attributes of God in our fellowships, we also may be guilty of having people look in the wrong place for genuine models of Christlikeness. Our many masks may be some of the reasons why people are forced to look elsewhere for Christ’s image.