The Masks Are Coming Off

There’s a fair deal of controversy in many parts of the world over whether or not people should be wearing some kind of face mask to help control the spread of COVID 19. It has become a particular issue in many churches. I confess that I don’t understand all the hype. After all, Christians have been wearing masks to church for years and years. That’s right. I’m calling you out. Long before the coronavirus came along you were already wearing a mask at church. You put on your best face to try and disguise the real you. You wore a mask to show others what a good Christian you were. You used a mask to hide your hurt and disappointments. You covered up your weaknesses and you presented an image to people of who you wanted to be. We all do it. We all put on our best face for others but especially in church. But the masks are starting to come off. That happens when people are under stress, cracks appear and the real you begins to show through. It is often ugly but at least it is honest. Under the current stress our tempers are short. We demand our own way.  Selfishness rules the day. We are frustrated about the things we cannot control and we can no longer hold onto the mask that we have used for so long. Jesus said, “You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known.” (Luke 12:2 The Message) It’s okay to be stressed out in this environment. It’s okay to acknowledge that we are fearful and feel like life is out of control. It’s okay to be honest about what is really happening in our homes under the stress we are in. This is a time that calls for real transparency and real honesty about who we are and what we are experiencing. It’s only when you take the mask off that you can receive God’s help, strength and forgiveness. It is only with his assistance that you can be transformed and changed into the person He created you to be. When you take the mask off you invite him (and others) into your life. Wearing a medical mask might save a life but wearing a religious mask could cost you your life.

On Racism

On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the people in the Upper Room, they spilled into the street speaking in other tongues. People from different parts of the world, “Parthians, Medes and Elamites, Egypt and the parts of Libya,” heard their own language being spoken and wondered, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12) What it meant was that the Kingdom of God was for everyone. There is no longer any division between different groups of people, “Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female.”(Galatians 3:28) The coming of the Spirit meant that God was forming a new people and skin color, religious background, gender, and economical status would not matter. It’s been hard to watch the news out of the U.S. this past week as protests have been spurred on by racial injustice. To be fair, racism isn’t just an American problem, it is found everywhere. It certainly isn’t any less hidden here in Europe. I’m grateful for police but when the systems that are to serve the people fail, it is important that citizens speak up. Unfortunately, the Church (universal) has not always lived up to the promise and power of the Day of Pentecost. Far too often, the Church has been a place of segregation and suspicion rather than unity and healing. Too often we have failed to practice the command of Jesus to ‘love one another.’      How can things change? For Christians, it starts with repentance, an examination of our heart. This can be painful. We often aren’t prepared for what we find. But it’s important that we look at our attitudes and assumptions about people who are different from us. It’s important we don’t simply think this is someone else’s sin. It’s important we ask God and others for forgiveness. Then comes a commitment to change, repentance means a “turning away” from the things of the past. It means living in a new way. It calls us to stand and protect the dignity of all people who are made in the image of God. It calls on us to speak out when injustice robs people of their rights and freedoms.   Before we blame the media, the police, certain people groups or government leaders, let us look at our own heart. Pray that God removes anything that is not pleasing to him and that he would give us the courage to follow him even when it goes against the way of the world.  And let us pray together: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Where there is injury, pardon;Where there is doubt, faith;Where there is despair, hope;Where there is darkness, light;Where there is sadness, joy.”   Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Amen.


A couple of weeks ago, a very friendly man, possibly quite intoxicated, engaged me in conversation and wanted to know what I do for a living.