She eyes you warily. You tuck back into the shadow. He addresses you suspiciously, but you flash a smile and dodge his questions. Your confidence from behind your mask is growing, and you’re not about to give in. Your secret identity must remain hidden at all costs.
If this was the narrative of a murder mystery dinner, you’d be set for a night filled with fun and laughter.
But this is no game you’re playing. This is an all-too-familiar desperate effort to save face.
Hiding in the Shadows
The need to hide and pretend is usually rooted in a fear of exposing our true selves. No one likes to air their dirty laundry, so in our pride, we pretend not to have any. On goes the mask, off goes authenticity.
- We dress or act in a particular way that doesn’t represent or respect how God made us in the hopes of attracting attention.
- We’re friendly to the unpopular and shy only when it’s convenient for us and makes us look good before others.
- We want to be part of the “in” group, so we do as they do and talk as they talk, ignoring the dangerous consequences.
Have you been putting on an act? Are you hiding behind a mask for fear of what you (or others) will find?
The Dangers of a Masked Heart
Last October my sister and I had the amazing opportunity to visit England. For one day we followed in the footsteps of author C.S. Lewis through the historic town of Oxford, wandering along brick roads, down lecture halls, in libraries, and through gardens.
While there, we stopped in for lunch at the Eagle & Child, a quaint English pub made famous by Lewis and his group of literary friends who met there regularly to discuss their writings.
As we waited for our fish and chips, my sister and I attempted to wax elegant on topics like English literature and philosophy, imagining the kind of conversations “The Inklings” shared in that very room. This short-lived conversation left us in stitches as we discovered how little we had to say on these subjects!
I’ve heard it said that sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. Being in Oxford certainly didn’t make me a scholar.
You may have been raised in a Christian home; you may attend church every Sunday; you may go to a Christian school; you may read your Bible every single day . . . but none of these things can mask a heart that doesn’t know Jesus.
No More Pretending
The apostle Paul was a brilliant, highly educated man. He was a staunchly religious Pharisee and a gifted writer and speaker. But Paul didn’t place his identity in his accomplishments. Nor did he try to look like a “super apostle” and cover up his past sins. He was honest about his failures, past and present. At the end of his life, he wanted to be known as one thing only: a sinner saved by grace (1 Tim. 1:12–15).
If you’re cowering in fear in the shadows, consider this good news: Jesus sees through your mask. He knows you fully and completely, and He still loves you! He died for you so that you don’t have to put on an act. You can run to Him with all your hurts and failures. No more pretending. No more fear or shame. Just full and complete forgiveness and freedom to those who humbly confess their sins and believe in His name (Rom. 10:9; 1 John 1:9)!
It’s so unusual it’s frightening
You see right through the mess inside me
And you call me out to pull me in
You tell me I can start again
And I don’t need to keep on hiding
I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You
Do you know Jesus? Is He your Savior? If you don’t know, I’m praying that today would be the day of salvation for you. Repent, believe the gospel, and rip off that mask. In Jesus you’ll find open arms of forgiveness and grace.