We are called to live truthful lives in the middle of a culture of lies and deception. News today has given way to spin, manipulation of the facts to put politicians, business leaders, and entertainers in the best possible light. But Christians have been warned not to conform to this world (Romans 12:2). Many people live their whole lives behind a mask, afraid to show anyone their real self. By doing so, we become skilled at wearing multiple masks, even trading one mask for another to suit the occasion. Our Sunday morning “church mask” might be very different from our “work mask” or our “spouse mask.”
The Church should be the safest place on Earth to be our true selves, yet even among members of our church we often play games, pretending that everything is fine: “Oh, I’m just happy in Jesus!” If you are truly happy in Jesus, then great; but if you are down in the dumps or troubled by something, then you should be able to say so openly to your Christian family. Sometimes we are afraid to tell people at church what is really going on in our life, fearing that the information may be passed around “as a prayer request.”
A life of pretension can be exhausting and imprisoning. Because our time on Earth is brief, we must waste no time being set free to live the truthful life. Living such a life is scary, because it means being transparent and vulnerable. Certainly there are risks; but the reward of living a free life, a life with all masks off, is worth it. Honestly living life, with nothing to hide, is incredibly freeing.
1 John 1:7 says that “if we walk in the light,” “we have fellowship with one another.” Walking in the light can be defined as living a transparent life—having nothing to hide. Living the truthful life is a prelude to and a condition for deep fellowship with others. I once attended a men’s breakfast at my church during which a middle-aged man I’ll call “Paul” made himself vulnerable, sharing something from his past of which he was very ashamed. He told us how when he was a young man, he had talked his pregnant girlfriend into getting an abortion. When I heard Paul share this story, I immediately felt drawn to him. His vulnerability did not cause me to judge or condemn him. On the contrary, it drew me closer to him. At the same breakfast, a 70-year-old man I’ll call “Stephen” shared openly about the aggressive sexual temptations with which he had dealt during his life as a truck driver. Every Sunday now, I find Stephen and give him a hug. His transparent sharing of his temptations and struggles built a deep bond of fellowship between us. Something about living a truthful life draws people to us. As Professor Paul Hiebert has written, “the price of knowing others is to be known.”
Reflections: When are you most tempted to put on a mask and pretend? Think of someone you know who is truthful and authentic. What do you like about that person’s words, actions, and attitudes? How can you begin to follow his or her example to live the “mask-free” truthful life?
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7