What do comic book superheroes and villains, children on Halloween, and masquerade balls have in common?
You probably guessed masks. Masks conjure up images of mysterious strangers. Or sinister villains. Or heroic crime fighters. Or maybe just playful children.
We associate masks with entertainment today, but people were just as familiar with them in ancient Greece and Rome. Stage actors often played multiple roles and wore masks to differentiate their various characters. And who hasn’t heard Shakespeare’s line, “All the world’s a stage…”?
For thousands of years, masks have enabled us to pretend to be someone we’re not.
The ancient Greeks referred to play-acting as hypokrisis, from which we get our English word, hypocrite. Today, we think of a hypocrite as someone whose behavior is not consistent with what they claim to believe, what they truly think, or who they really are.
When Jesus criticized the spiritual leaders of His day, He called them hypocrites. They taught the people how to be close to God, but their hearts were far from Him.
I’m not a comic book character or an actor. And I don’t wear a costume for Halloween. But I confess that I, too, have worn masks—not physically, but figuratively. I’ve said one thing while thinking the opposite. I’ve acted kindly, but with the wrong motives. I’ve put on a spiritual front, knowing I harbored unconfessed sin. In short, I’ve also been a hypocrite.
Thankfully, Jesus paid for all sin, including the sin of hypocrisy. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am determined to remove my mask and keep it off.
Despite the fact that this week is associated with masks, will you join me?