Yesterday I had to go to town, and I was greeted with an almost eerie sight, everybody was walking around wearing masks. It looked like everybody was either sick or getting ready to rob the bank! My wife and I were one of only a handful of people not wearing a mask. Don’t worry we practiced safe social distancing. What was interesting is that they were all looking at us like we were the crazy ones. Gone were the smiles, either because of fear or because they were hidden behind a mask. God created us to communicate and greet each other not just with the words that come out of our mouths but with our mouths through smiling. It seemed so strange to see all these people wearing masks. I mean before the pandemic we were not wearing masks, or were we? The truth is people have been wearing masks for centuries, trying to protect themselves and hide what is really going on in their lives. And just like some of the masks people are wearing right now we looked ridiculous. We might snicker at the guy with half a bra on his face, but how foolish do we look wearing our emotional masks pretending to be who we are not? So why are people running around like bank robbers hiding their faces? Because the government has told us that wearing masks will help protect us from this virus. It’s the same reason many of us wear masks to hide who we really are, because the world has told us it’s not safe or cool to be the real you. After all people might not like you, they might laugh at you. If you really want to be successful wear this mask and pretend. In 1 Peter 2:1 it says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” The word “hypocrite” comes from the word that the Greeks of Paul’s day used to describe actors on a stage. It means to “wear a mask.” Actors would put on masks to hide their real identity allowing them to play different parts in the same play. It’s the idea of pretending to be someone you’re not. When we wear masks, our profession does not match our practice. How many have walked away from Christ because of hypocritical Christians who play at being a follower with their lips, but their lifestyle reveals a fraud? Does your witness match your words? Are you wearing a mask? Does your public life match your private life? We are all tempted to wear masks. As believers, many of us have learned how to behave in such a way that people don’t really see what’s taking place on the inside. We can con our coworkers, fool our friends and family, play charades with church members, and even deceive ourselves, but we can’t masquerade before the Lord because He sees right through our masks. So why do we expend huge sums of energy on mask management, trying to look right instead of living right? There are a million different reasons we wear masks and fear is probably one of the biggest. Our fear is that if we show our true selves, the world will say, “Oh, it’s just you.” But being just you is the best thing you can be because it’s who God created you to be. Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” The psalmist reminds us, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” When we wear masks, we fail to live out the life God intended for us and so we never live up to our potential. Sure, there are a lot of people with similar skill sets to you but none of them will bring the same passion, personality and creativity to the task as you do. Masking ourselves causes us to live a lesser life and never reach our greatest potential. Mask wearing is exhausting because we are living an inauthentic life. Let’s be honest most of us are not just wearing one mask but many. We have to keep up the act and the worst part is not just the exhaustion, but you start forgetting who you really are. When we wear masks, we cut off pieces of ourselves and withholding parts of who we are because we see ourselves as unworthy or unaccepted. When we do, we not only hurt ourselves, but it becomes impossible to heal. Because until you offer up all the pieces of who you are you can’t become whole. It’s like handing someone a broken vase and asking them to fix it but holding back several of the broken pieces. Everything in our lives get cheated when we hide behind our masks. My wife and I recently celebrated the birth of our first grandchild and as I held him and looked into his eyes, I was reminded of how mask free he was. The good news is that we are not born with masks, we put them on, and that means that we can take them off. What are some of the negative message you have heard and held onto? Most of these messages are not true they are lies. So, here are a couple of questions I want you to ask yourself. First, why am I carrying this message? And second if I put it down, what would happen? Probably nothing. The main risk we face is how will the world react. When you take of your mask don’t be surprised if the world tries to scare you into putting it back on. When we refuse to wear masks, it threatens others because it invites them to reevaluate their own lives. It exposes the truth that they also have the power to change, they just haven’t. As the poet E. E. Cummings wrote, “The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.” When you live your life mask free don’t be surprised if the world looks at you like you are the crazy one. Are there any masks you are wearing? If so why? What are you trying to protect or cover up? How much time are you expending on maintaining your masks? When this pandemic is over people will remove their medical masks but what about our emotional ones? Why not take the time to evaluated your life and see if there are any masks that are hiding the real you.