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Religious Masks

Religious Masks

Words of Faith 5-4-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 6      

   [41] "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? [42] How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

 

   Jesus continued with a humorous illustration. One of the modern film portrayals of Jesus actually shows Jesus picking up a long board and holding it as if it were stuck in His eye while looking to find a speck in the eye of another.

     Sometimes truth can bring laughter and laughter can help us to heal. The image of the "speck" and the "plank" hits the mark with force when the person who casually calls the person he is criticizing "brother" suddenly hears himself called "hypocrite," by the Lord. As much as anything Jesus was criticizing the patronizing attitude of the self proclaimed moralist.

     The exaggeration probably drew laughter while making the powerful point that one must in some way deal with himself with a sin before he can help his brother with that sin. And often one's own sin is greater than the one he criticizes in someone else-- a plank compared with a speck of sawdust. One cannot help someone else become righteous if he is not righteous himself. To seek to do so is to be a hypocrite.

       The word hypocrite is not a casual one for Jesus. He used it to rebuke the religiously self-righteous who demanded a holiness of others that they themselves could not possibly claim or attain. Literally, a hypocrite means to be an actor or "mask wearer". The image is based on Greek drama in which a variety of masks portrayed different types of characters.

       The point Jesus was making is that we often wear masks of various sorts. There is the mask of religious piety that puts on a holy front. There is the mask of social perfection that hides all mistakes. In our culture there are many masks we are tempted to put on-- the mask of the perfect Christian, the mask of the perfect family, or the mask of sinless living.

     Church gatherings are the place we most often wear a mask. Basically these are masks rooted in pride and fear. In pride, we portray ourselves as someone we are not. In fear, we are terrified of rejection.  

     Jesus is clear that until we take off the masks and deal with the points of sin and unforgiveness in our own lives we will not be able to minister to others. But this also speaks of the Kingdom. In heaven we will not wear masks. We can't be sure exactly what we will wear but certainly the masks will be gone.

     To experience the Kingdom of God today and now is a great joy and it involves finding a place where we don't have to wear any mask at all. It is the place where we can share the genuine hurt and great joy in life without fear. It is the place where we don't have to prove anything to anyone. This is deep genuine fellowship. It is not a big public thing. It usually happens in a close relationship, prayer partnership or intimate small group. It doesn't happen in a big room, in a stadium, on a tape, with a television or at the movies.  

     Since we are all sinners, does this mean we can never help others with their sin? Not at all. But it does mean that we need to carefully attend to our own walk with God or we will be useless to Him. It means that we need the righteousness that is not from ourselves but is from God and is received by faith. It means that we begin helping others by lowering our masks and stopping the pretense. It means that our pain and failure can actually be the thing that helps others-- when we take of the masks and get real with people.

     Where are you today? Is there a mask you need to get rid of? Is there a place you need to find where you can help others and be helped along the way?

 

       Father God, thank You for using humor to expose the truth in us. Help me to find those places of spiritual strength and intimacy. Help me to take off the masks that are rooted in pride and fear. In Jesus' name.