"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "Doing Just Fine" Mask

Last week I wrote about the “Mr. Fix it mask” that we so easily can wear.  This week we will deal with mask number two

2.            The “Doing Just Fine” mask

With the “Doing Just Fine” mask, attempting to keep things neat and tidy trumps out true authenticity and honesty.  So we tell others that things are great—couldn’t be better, all is swell…when all the while we are hurting, struggling, and lonely.  Those of us in this place can’t find the cure…so we hide the sickness under a masked smile.

I know this mask too.  I used to hate the word “Pastor”.  To some people a pastor is supposed to be an uber Christian—a notch above the rest.   I used to think that myself.  The trouble was I had become one…and I knew that wasn’t the case with me.  I knew I was arrogant, selfish, lazy, dishonest, and lustful.  And I was also a pastor.  I was struggling with sin and pains I didn’t think a pastor should struggle with.  So I hid my pain, and put on a good face…and it ruined me.  I was spiritually bankrupt, and I felt helpless.  This was one of the desperate and depressing seasons of my life.

The danger in an identity of striving to keep up appearances is that others feel compelled to put on an act as well in order to keep up with ours.  This can happen in churches—everyone hiding behind fake smiles… at the ultimate cost of authentic relationship, love and trust.  It becomes a bunch of actors putting on a cheesy drama together.

Many Christians, rather than authentically being the church…are just playing church.  Those outside of the church can see right through it.  They don’t desire what we claim to have because the spirit of God is not in fake relationships.  Our fake smiles drive away those we are called to reach!

When we openly admit we don’t have it all together, not only is that attractive to those we are called to reach (…who already know we don’t have it all together), we give Jesus something that he can work with.  Pastor and writer Bill Hybels points out how Jesus looked past short comings and straight into people’s potential.  He was able to see who they could become with a surrendered heart.  I love the story of Jesus calling Matthew to be his disciple.

Matthew 9:9-10
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Tax collectors were not the most respected of all people.  In fact, they were quite despised.  They gathered money for the Roman government from their fellow Jews…and they’d collect extra to line their own pockets.  Selfish backstabers!

This is the type of man whom Jesus is calling—asking Matthew to leave a lucrative career. Matthew is to fed up to pretend he’s alright.  Striving after money has left him empty and unsatisfied.  He knows Jesus is the answer, so he embraces the grace outstretched to him and immediately follows Jesus!  
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

What does Matthew do next?  He invites his friends!  I imagine the conversation going something like this  “Guys, I’ve tried this tax collecting gig…I made a lot of money at the expense of a lot of relationships.  I burned a lot of bridges, and the truth is…I hurt.  But Jesus looked past all of that, and invited me to be his disciple!  You got to come meet this guy!”

Matthew Escaped the “Doing Just fine” mask, and discovered he could be clothed in grace.  His authenticity and acceptance of the gift of grace compelled others to throw down the masks and reach out for grace as well.

To explore this further, check out “The Cure” by TrueFaced.com, and Matt Chandler’s sermon “The diagnostic and the cure”—a sermon on Galatians.

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