It is that time of year. Halloween costumes are disappearing off shelves as the American national costume wearing day approaches. Masks have been worn universally as a part of cultures everywhere for centuries. Is it any wonder that we learn at an early age that putting on emotional and social masks may just get us the treat of success?
Perhaps it all began back in the garden. The Bible says, “The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25 No cover ups, no masks, just two honest holy people complete and unashamed. When they sinned they suddenly felt vulnerable and unprotected. They were less than they needed to be. They added leaves as a covering to make themselves acceptable. They were sinful creatures in the presence of a Holy God.
Children begin early to pretend. As adults we encourage them to dream big. We teach children to obey without questioning. While this is necessary to a degree it must be balanced with an honest acceptance of human imperfections and limitations.
Humans and animals alike learn much by mimicking. As we follow this pattern we begin to think that if we can produce the right look, the right words, and the right actions we have become what we want to believe we are. We have a natural bent as humans to avoid confession and repentance. We work hard to set boundaries, keep rules, compare ourselves among ourselves and in the end if we are not careful we actually just end up with white washed tombs. Matthew 23:27
Rewarding the right answers and good behavior while avoiding the hard questions, the real doubts, and unanswerable fears has developed a Christian culture that is self-absorbed. Too many Christians walk the walk and talk the talk to mask their inner turmoil of questions, doubts, and fears. When we stand before God He will unmask all childish pretensions at being holy. Our job as disciple makers is to teach obedience that is neither self-righteous, nor self-accepting. Obedience for the Christian is a truly loving response to a loving God. John 14:15
We need not fear their giving voice to doubts or unmasking fears. The child that is acting out is suffocating under a mask of social unacceptance. Our God is big enough for whatever they bring. Learning this will make them strong, able to face the ridicule and doubts of their peers when they hit those precarious teenage years.
God bless the teacher who sees past the outward attempts to find acceptance and love both in the child acting out and in the child acting right. My prayer is that we all will stand before our children without any pretensions of self-made righteousness. We cannot teach what we do not practice! Let us practice the prayer of Psalm 139 Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!”