Back in the spring of 2021, after over a year of masking up everywhere we went in public, the masks finally started to come off. In our neck of the woods, most of the mandates were slowly lifted and I can’t say I was disappointed. Now, there are still a few places that require them, but for the most part it is rare to see people masked up. Depending on where you live, masks may still be the norm but obviously there is a strong push to drop the mandates.
My focus in this article is not to delve into the pros and cons of mask wearing. My concern is that for many the masks remain on. Yes, the cloth masks are off, but another mask remains on. In fact, these masks were on long before Covid-19.
Confused? I am talking about the Body of Christ. I am talking about the masks that people choose to put on week after week. Far too many Christians remain closed and fenced off from the very people they should be opening up to – brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is only natural I think to want to put on a good front to those around us. We want to put our best foot forward. We want others to like us. We don’t want to show weakness and vulnerability. So what do we do? We put on our “good Christian” mask and play the role of Mr. or Mrs. “got it all together.” Obviously, this is not what God intends for the church. It doesn’t serve to foster genuine community and it certainly doesn’t benefit all the “actors” involved.
The New Testament is filled with “one another” verses that instruct us in how we should relate to one another. Here is a sampling:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10
“Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:16
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
There are plenty of people who on the outside look fantastic, but on the inside are a mess. Unfortunately, they won’t let anyone get near them. They don’t open up about struggles and real-life issues that plague them. This problem is perpetuated by fellow-church-goers who don’t seem to show an interest in the struggles and sufferings of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Why is this so hard? I will be the first to confess that the modern church doesn’t have a great track record. Perhaps you have heard stories of times where Christians have opened up to one another, in the hopes of being ministered to. Instead, what they shared in confidence was quickly gossiped around and they were hurt in the process. Sometimes instead of the church being the safest place in the world, it’s the opposite. Sad but true.
Every church and every church leader should seek to foster a community of believers where ministry truly happens – where brothers and sisters in Christ are real with one another – where they speak the truth of God’s word in love to one another – where they confess their sins to one another – where they open up about struggles – where they pray for one another. That is the biblical vision. That is what God expects of us. But that type of community can never happen when we are masked up, and just aiming to put on a good front to those around us.
I have never been more excited and optimistic about the Body of Christ. Though things might look bleak to you, the only way the church can fail is when it fails to be biblical. Just think about it, Jesus has promised to build His church! Nothing can stand in its way (Matthew 16:18). But we must do everything in our power to truly love one another and minister to one another (Romans 13:8).
May God give His people much grace in this regard, and may the world know that we are Jesus’ disciples by how we love one another (John 13:35).