I saw it recently on my favorite Christian satire website, The Babylon Bee, and it made me laugh. For the headline said simply: “Mysterious Masked Man Fights Off Masked Men to Save Masked Man.” The “fake news” story then went on to report that “an unknown masked man was attacked by a group of masked men, but he was saved when a mysterious masked man fought off the attackers,” leading a masked bystander to ask the obvious question, of course: “Who was that masked man?”
And as we’ve now been encouraged to wear masks in public at all times, I suspect that as the days unfold, some of us may be asking that same question, as well. For notwithstanding the fashion accessories now beginning to “bling up” some home-made masks, when people’s faces are covered it can be hard indeed to know just exactly who someone is.
Though hiding behind a mask may make good sense in a pandemic, however—or if you happen to be, say, Darth Vader– it’s no way to live as a person of integrity whose behavior and even facial expressions should reflect the presence of God in our lives. For as 2 Timothy 2.15 reminds us, those who follow Jesus are intended to be workers who have “no need to be ashamed.”
To be sure, masks can help us hide our true thoughts and feelings and even offer an illusion perhaps of anonymity. Likewise, masks are usually easy to don, though they are often far more difficult to take off. But the truth is that we can’t enjoy healthy relationships unless we show others who we actually are. Instead, as Eugene Peterson paraphrased 2 Corinthians 4.2, “we refuse to wear masks and play games… Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.”
Or in other words, even if we wear a facial covering for health reasons, we’re still called to live the same way behind our masks as without them, being honest and open with all whom we encounter. For when it comes to making a witness for Christ, to say nothing of entering into a genuine relationship with someone, as C.S. Lewis once asked the question, “How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
And just in case you were wondering… having been made in His image, I’m pretty certain God has seen exactly who we are and what we look like. And incredibly enough, He loves us completely anyway.