Venice, Italy in my opinion is one of the world’s most famously interesting cities. It’s rich heritage and cultural eccentricities make it a favorable tourist destination for many. One of the most unique customs they maintain is a festival called Carnevale. Dating back to 1162, the Carnival of Venice traditionally features a contest for the best decorated mask. The masks while all uniquely individual share a bright colorful beauty that attracts looks from everyone in the vicinity.
The masks are to hide the wearers identity and social status and permits the wearer to interact more freely with members of society outside the bounds of identity and every day convention.
In graphics we also have the ability to mask objects. For instance if we are putting together a presentation and want to show only part of a image, we can create a mask and virtually “erase” all of the content we don’t want seen. The content is still there, but the viewer will only see what we want them to see.
This is is the same for humanity as a whole. We all have a tremendous amount of events that happen to us every single day. Some of them bad, some of them good, these events shape who we are and how we view the world around us. What we have become good at is creating masks for ourselves where we present a nice clean version to everyone in the outside world. This is most perfectly demonstrated on a Sunday morning in a church gathering when you see a friend or acquaintance and ask “Hey! How’s it going?” When you reply with a simple “great!”, chances are you are not great. I am not great. I’m guilty of doing this exact thing. Really there is hurt and pain, suffering, struggles and distractions happening but we choose to censor our lives based on what we think people want to hear about us.
Philippians 1:27 says “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to you, or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
What’s cool about this verse is that it shows us the importance of doing life together. It also helps me get over this fear of me, because despite any mask that I may be wearing, God can see around it. However, the only way we can be moving forward with one mind is if we let go of ourselves, realize that the Cross is bigger, and allow God to grow us closer together as we maintain relationships that are intensely authentic. However, holding our junk close does not present us worthy; in fact we are not only deceiving ourselves, but attempting to deceive God.
In James we see even more proof to be authentic and open. 5:16 says “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” One of the greatest reasons, in my opinion to let go of the mask is because we can’t do anything on our own. We must lean on Christ, but as iron sharpens iron, we need our brothers and sisters too. How encouraging is it to know that the prayers of our Christian family have GREAT power. So not only am I growing in authenticity with my relationships, but I am also gaining power to go to God on behalf of any and everything.
The Word encourages to take off our masks and be real. To be free. Christ’s death on the cross has freed us from the chains of sin.
Today, be real.
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