Remove the Mask

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Luke 8:17

We have a problem. One that affects every aspect of our lives and keeps us from true freedom. That problem is sin, or in other terms, a separation between us and God. In this sin we choose selfish desires and do selfish things, we live in a world that says anything you want is okay and totally fine. We create masks to fit in, to be someone we aren’t. As leaders and followers of Christ, we create these masks as well. Sometimes we put on our, “of course I read scripture in the morning like an inspiring Instagram post,” or, “I’ve never done something as bad as that.” The one that I think hurts us the most is, “I’m fine,” when we are most certainly not fine. You see we feel like we have to be a certain way or like certain things to be a follower of Christ, we think we have to be perfect people. The truth is, God used broken people and he wants to use you. If you’re saying to yourself, “I’m not broken, I follow all the rules I’m supposed to,” this post is for you. If you’re also saying, “I feel like I can’t be who I am to really follow Christ,” this post is also for you. God made us unique and special, he made us to live in the light, and he doesn’t want us to hide behind our masks any longer.

This is something I get passionate about, because for years I hid behind a mask. I was the kid of staff at the church we used to go to, I felt like I could be myself around my parents and at home, but when we went to church I put the mask on. It wasn’t because my parents wanted me to do it, in fact they supported me being myself all the time, I just felt like I had to fit in with the other good kids. It was hard, any time I was struggling, I put on the mask and said I was fine. When I needed real friends, I had masks on to get with the “in” crowd. Then I moved to a different church with my family and encountered a group of people that didn’t wear masks, they knew who they were in God, and simply followed him in that way. I took off my mask. I continually have to consciously take it off every day, but each time I do, I encounter the real relationship with God that he so desperately wants from us. This month we’ve been looking at spooky movie tropes, and I always think about Scooby-Doo. The monster is always a broken person using a mask to hide their struggle, and in the process, end up hurting the people around them. We all get to this point in our lives, we have our masks on for too long and it ends up killing us and hurting the people around us. I think it’s time for a change, for a generation to rise up and take off their masks. We need to be vulnerable to grow, we need to embrace the passions God has given us, and we need to live in freedom. It’s time to remove the mask.

Vulnerable growth.

We can’t grow when we hide our problems. Seems pretty basic right? Then why do we all struggle with being vulnerable? We have friends that ask how we are and we just say, “Fine.” You’re not fine. Maybe you are in a struggle that you feel you can’t escape, maybe it’s a loss you have just experienced, or maybe it’s the pressure of finances and family around you. We need to start being vulnerable. Now this isn’t to say that any person that asks you how you’re doing, you spill your life story on them. What it does mean is you need to have a close community to share your struggles with. You need friends in your life that you trust and can walk with you through the darkest nights. You need people to push you into something better; you need them to speak life over you. You need to help others do the same. We all struggle because we are all broken. We can stand with each other in the battle all around us, we have the power to lift each other up and keep fighting. We serve a God who wants us to be vulnerable with other believers, because in our vulnerability, we have the hope to grow into something greater.

Embrace passion.

We are unique people. That’s what makes God so cool (okay, one of many), we have all been given talents and passions that fuel us and fill us. We all have passions, something that makes us get excited. For me, this is writing. I love being able to write posts that impact and encourage others, it’s something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m not sure what your passion may be, but I know you have one, because you were created by God. I like to read, and I like to read things from beat poets, one of my favorites being Jack Kerouac. He wrote a book called, On the Road, which is more of a diary. No chapters, just a continuous stream of thoughts. The book is his journey hitch hiking across America in the 1950’s. It’s not a Christian book and there are some questionable thoughts, but the thing I love about it is how real it is. It’s written by someone who has no mask, and we see the world around him; we see his passion for the world. I like this because I want to be like him, but filled with Christ. I want to help the world be who they were meant to be, I want to experience the journey that has been given to each of us. Embrace your passion and you will see God.

Live in freedom.

It’s amazing how much energy we spend on wearing a mask. We have to make everything look just right in our lives; we end up putting ourselves in bondage. We don’t have to fit in a mold that is impossible to fill, we just need to follow Jesus. The thing I love about the bible is the fact that it is filled with imperfect people who were used to change the world. We all have a past, but we do not have to live in the past. God calls us out of the depths to his mercy, so we need to move out of our past and into the future he offers us. Our stories are all unique, and our stories help us connect to those around us who are hurting and lost. We can live in freedom, because we follow the one who conquered sin and death. These things no longer have power over us. We can live in freedom each day, choosing to remove the mask and into the opportunity God has for us. We can step out of the shadows and into the will he has for our lives. He wants to use you, all of you. Your mistakes, past, and regrets; and he wants you to live in freedom from them.

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For years I lived with a mask, but now all I want is to be as far away from the mask as possible. Life isn’t found in a mask, it’s found in the presence of God. My family taught me this, and it took me a long time to embrace that Idea, but I am so happy and my life is never going to be the same. It’s fun during this October season to dress up and wear a mask, but don’t let that idea carry over into the way that you act around others. We need to remember to be vulnerable so we can have growth, to embrace the passions God has given us, and live in freedom each and every day. I love the people in my life that embody this. My family who follow their passion for small groups and the next generation, caring about people and not an image the people have of them. I love the life giving friends God has placed in my life, a tribe where I can belong and feel accepted. For the love God has given me in my life to make an impact through writing and his guidance wherever I end up one day. We need to stop hiding, we need to take off the mask and step into our future filled with purpose.

Remove your mask.

-Joshua Thomas

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