We always hear, "take your mask off, be yourself." That is good advice. But what if the people around you hand you a mask to wear? What if you find yourself in an environment where people hand you a mask that looks like everyone else's? What if your environment forces you to masquerade because not masquerading will rock the boat and cause those in power to lose control?
This is terrible when it happens in the church and in Christian institutions. And boy, does it happen! There are people who do not want you to be yourself, to think and act for yourself. They maintain control and put on a false front. They foist upon you their masks and get bent all out of shape when you refuse to wear them, when you refuse to play along. Isn't it sickening? Is that what Jesus would do?
Jesus upset the religious people of the day because he didn't play by their arbritary rules or wear the masks that they were foisting upon him. He did anything but masquerade. They tried to mask the face of God. God would have none of it. When he refused, they said he wasn't playing by the rules; he was stirring up revolt. He had a rebellious spirit, they said. They called him Beelzebub.
We do it today. People try to do it to you and me--all in the name of their version of Christianity, not historic Christianity. Here I am not advocating rebellion against Jesus, or sinfulness in order for us to "be ourselves." Nor am I advocating rugged individualism. I am advocating that we allow each other to be the people that God has called us to be. So many people rail against cookie-cutter Christianity, but in the end they'll have nothing else. They can't handle anything else.
Being a non-cookie cutter personailty yet a devout follower of Jesus may lead some to lable you as a trouble-maker, as an insurrectionist. But I say, wherever you are, love and honor those around you, but don't let them mask who God has made you to be. Don't masquerade. Loving them doesn't mean you aquiesce to their sinful attitudes and postures--to their control. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is live and speak the truth in love.
Ugh. I have to say it again: masquerading is sickening. It's untruthful and lacks integrity. It is playing to the crowd and people pleasing. It accomplishes little--doing more harm than good. If you put a mask on, that's out of fear and perhaps self-protection. If someone tries to force a mask on you--that is diabolical control.
Let us, as Peter said, love one another from the heart with a mutual love. May we not force our political leanings, denominational preferences, or belief about peripheral doctrines upon one another. God is not threatened by who we are, why should we be? If others are while we are obediently following Jesus, let God be true and every man or woman a liar.