At this time of year in New Orleans, they celebrate Mardi Gras. As part of this Mardi Gras, everyone wears a mask. Masks are an integral part of Mardi Gras culture. During early Mardi Gras celebrations hundreds of years ago, masks were a way for their wearers to escape class constraints and social demands. Mask wearers could mingle with people of all different classes and could be whomever they desired, at least for a few days. You know, masks are interesting items. They are donned for various occasions. I dare any of you, however, to go down a street or a mall and wear a mask and see what kind of reaction you’ll get. It would probably be something like, he’s crazy, or he doesn’t have both oars in the water or she’s two cards short of a full deck. Let us not be too hasty to
judge that person wearing a mask. For many of us are all indicted. Most of us are wearing a mask even now at our church. For many of us, this started at a young age, certainly by our teenage years we have learned to put on a mask, in order to portray a certain image when we’re in front of other people or even our family. And by adulthood we have become accustomed to wearing our mask. In fact, many of us feel incomplete and uncomfortable without donning our mask.
Let’s face it, today in our society and even in our church we have become addicted to wearing masks. It’s almost become like a defense mechanism to protect us against the cruelties of our surroundings. I wonder if we should start a support group for people who wear masks. We could call it a masquerade support group. One of the problems with wearing masks is it gets awful lonely underneath it, because you really don’t know whether people love you or even like you or whether they like the image that you’re portraying. Is it really me they love or is it just what I appear to be?
In Colossians 3, starting with verse 12. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive what ever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Since as members of one body you are called to peace and be thankful”. Here’s a passage that deals with our relationship with one another, but let’s take another look at verse 12 in this passage. It begins by saying, “therefore as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved”. This passage begins with a declaration of what God thinks about us, what our position is before Him and that we are His chosen people.
Not because of anything we have done, but God, out of His grace and mercy, has actually chosen us -- just the way we choose one another in relationships, God has chosen us. Then the next part of the text says we are holy, which means we are set apart -- that by God choosing us and calling us out of the world we are somehow different, we are set apart to have a special relationship with Him and others. And so it’s in that context that God calls us to a relationship with one another. Building on relationships – it all starts with who we really are.
Do you remember that old TV show that was popular back in the seventies called, “What’s My Line”, in which you had three people, one who was really who they said they were and the other two pretending to be that person. Take for example, if you had the occupation of a Physician. One of the three would be a real Doctor and the other two would try their very best to convince the audience and the contestant that they too were real Doctors. The contestant would only have a certain amount of time to ask questions and at the end of that time try to determine who the real Doctor was. At the end of the show, after the contestant would chose one of the three who they thought was the real Doctor, the host would say, “will the real Doctor please stand?” At first, one would start to rise and then quickly sit down and the real one would finally stand.
So the question is, are we going through life pretending we’re someone we’re really not? No mask, no façade -- will the real you please stand? True friends always accept you for who you really are. Perhaps, one of the most important aspects in the growth of friendship is for us to take off our mask. With true friendship, you do not need to wear a mask. We can be who we really are – totally free of trying to be someone or something we are not. If you want your friendship to grow – lose the mask. Masks are deceiving and cover the real person. When Jesus hung His head on the Cross and died, Satan’s mask was ripped off of him and he was totally exposed for who he really was – a liar and deceiver. Many of us are not that extreme when we lose our mask, but the point is for us to be genuine. By losing our mask, it not only draws us closer to Jesus, but will enhance the love of God with our friends and family. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”.