July 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

We church-goers should be the people most comfortable with wearing masks. A lot of us have been doing it for years.

The Greek word hypokrites means to wear a mask, as a theater actor. You’re probably aware that in ancient Greek theater, the actors would wear masks as they played their parts. The well known comedy/tragedy masks are symbols that tie modern theater to its ancient roots.
 Jesus uses that word four times in the Sermon on the Mount to describe people who put on a show of righteousness and piety in order to earn the esteem of men. 

He rebukes the pious for making sure everyone knew how much they gave to the poor, and virtue signaling in the process (even before that was a thing).

He rebukes those who made sure the cameras were in focus and the microphones were on as they offered public prayer in an ostentatious display of supposed reverence.

And He rebukes those who, if they were going to go to the trouble of grieving and fasting and lamenting, wanted to be sure everyone knew just how spiritual they really were.

Now, before you start getting all smug and self-righteous thinking about hypocrites you know, Jesus’ final use of the word in the Sermon on the Mount is a word of rebuke for those who can see clearly the speck in someone else’s eye but who can’t see the log in their own eye.

The verses in Matthew 7 that talk about logs and specks and hypocrisy may be some of the most violated verses in our day. If you doubt that, take a look at Twitter some time. It’s a playground for speck spotting. The whole point of Jesus’ teaching about logs and specks is that the self righteous speck spotters are hiding behind masks of their own, pretending they possess a goodness in themselves that simply won’t stand up to scrutiny.

The mask we see most often in a local church is the “I’m fine” mask. It’s a different kind of hypocrisy. It’s the polite smile that covers the hurt, the pain, the confusion or the loneliness. It’s the marriage mask that looks all put together when we sit side by side at church, but is actually hiding a crumbling relationship. It’s the parenting mask that conceals the worries about how our children are doing and the choices we’re watching them make. It’s the happy face that obscures the depression or anxiety or isolation we’re feeling.

The gospel tells us it is safe to take off our masks and to be known. It’s safe because God Himself already knows what’s behind the mask. And He has removed our shame. Our guilt. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. It’s safe to reveal the truth about who you really are.

But what about everyone else? What happens when other people see and know the real me and not the carefully manicured, masked up version? One of the primary reasons Christians have been putting on masks for so long is because some of us have experienced what happens when we allow our masks to slip. We may stand before the Lord freed from our shame. But our brothers and sisters are not as forgiving. Shaming is an intramural sport among many Christians.

One of our goals at Redeemer is to nurture an environment where it’s safe to be who you are, sans masks. We’ve talked many times about a local church being a place where it’s okay not to be okay. A place where we work to cultivate grace based, Christ centered, intentionally intrusive redemptive relationships. Where everyone drops any stones we might be holding and brings the healing ointment of grace instead.

In the midst of a pandemic, masks and social distancing are necessary to curb the spread of the infection. But we’ve all experienced how unsatisfying it is to try to communicate and connect with one another while we’re wearing our masks and keeping our distance. We look forward to the day when we can take our masks off and move closer to one another again.

In the meantime, let’s keep working to overcome the necessary barriers and to stay as close and connected to each other as we can while staying safe at the same time. In our FaceTime chats, our texting, our Zoom Bible studies and whatever other ways we are able to stay in touch, let’s work on dropping our masks and letting each other into the interior of our lives. Let’s bring out our messes, tell the truth about what’s really going on in our lives and see how God will work in a community that is committed to being full of grace and truth.

Say hello to the two newest members of the Redeemer family!

Congrats to the Harris’s and the Wagners!

No special events or activities to highlight this week. Once again on Sunday, Mrs. Jen will have her Gospel Zone lesson for kids beginning on line at 9:40.

And as we gather for worship at 10am we’ll explore what Jesus means – and what He doesn’t mean – when He tells His disciples in John 6 to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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