“Masquerade! Paper faces on parade . . .Masquerade! Hide your face, so the world will never find you!”
Perhaps not one of the most well-known songs from the Phantom of the Opera, but when someone brings up this musical favorite of mine, “Masquerade” is invariably the first song to come to my mind. The artist in me loves the swirling colors of the costumes and masks in the scene, the musician in me loves the energy and spirit of the song, but the writer in me is rather fascinated by the underlying message of the lyrics.
“How are you?” “Fine. Thank you. And you? I’m fine. Thank you for asking.”
As my grandmother would say, “Hogwash!” Sometimes such an exchange is true. There are many days when “fine” is an appropriate way to describe how I am doing or how I am feeling, but on many occasions that reply is nothing more than a polite lie. A way to hide the truth of the turmoil in my heart. I was recently talking to a friend that shared with me that there was no one in her church that she could be real with and pour her heart out to without being judged, or without that person turning around and sharing her secret feelings with anyone she came in contact with that would listen. What a shame that is! I completely understand her dilemma though. Sometimes things are just too personal to share, but I have to wonder how many people would be willing to share if they knew that there was someone that could be trusted to help them, pray with them or just listen to them in confidence?
It has been said that church is for sinners, but do we church-going people really believe that? Do we believe that the term “sinner” is not only for those people out in the world that should come in and get fixed up nice and pretty like us, but that those of us in the pews are all sinners too? We modern American churches have dressed ourselves up in our Sunday dresses and our suits and ties, painted our faces with our Sunday-go-to-meeting masks and convinced ourselves that we are better than those around us. We are better than the sinners that don’t come to church. We are better than the sin-filled visitors that don’t walk in decked out according to our dress code. We even believe that we are better than other churches that have methods different from our own. Shame on us!
1 Peter 5:5 says,
All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Rather than walking around with our Christian facades firmly in place, we are to be clothed with humility.
We are to submit ourselves to each other, just as Christ showed us by example when He washed the disciples feet. Only one time in my life have I witnessed a pastor not only preach on this passage, but physically demonstrate it by choosing a complete stranger from the crowd and kneeling before him with a towel and a basin of water, remove the strangers shoes and wash his feet while speaking over him the love of Christ. It was a powerful moment and many eyes in the room that day were moist with tears of understanding how Christ truly loves and serves us despite of our sinfulness.
Aside from spiders, nothing creeps me out more than feet. I can’t imagine humbling myself enough to bow before a person that I loved, much less a total stranger, and taking their foot in my hand to cleanse it. I honestly don’t know that I could do that in my own strength. But that is exactly what Christ has called us to do. He wants each of us to submit ourselves to each other, and in humility realize that unlike Christ, we are no better than the person before standing before us.
The second part of that verse is equally as powerful as the first, if not more so. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, that word “resist” is incredibly sobering. It means He “sets Himself against” those that are proud. He wants nothing to do with our pious, church facades. God gives grace to the humble. Those that are willing to be honest about their faults and failures receive God’s grace. Those that are willing to look at someone of a different social class or education status or religion right in the eyes, take them by the hand and show them the love of Christ receive a “well done” from our Lord. Maybe they aren’t dressed very nice, maybe they don’t smell that good and maybe they just got out of jail…these are the ones Christ walked with day by day as He ministered on this earth. What makes us any better than Him?
When you pass someone in the hall that has an obvious look of pain or grief on their face, do you stop and talk to them? Do you ask them if there is anything you can pray with them about? Do you even notice them? I know it is uncomfortable, and it takes time out of your busy schedule, and it may be messy to “get involved” in someone else’s life–but Jesus left the comforts of Heaven to spend 33 years on this sin-ridden planet to get torn to shreds and nailed on a cross for us. The least we can do is show a little of that love to one of His beloved creations. Don’t you agree?
I’m preaching to myself as much as to any of you that are gracious enough to read my spoutings. My favorite excuses are “I don’t have time” and “I don’t know what to say.” And usually both of those are true statements. I’m very busy most of the time and I am the queen of awkward social moments. Truly. But my introverted awkwardness is not an excuse to look the other way when someone is in need. To do that is to invite the wrath of God upon my life, and that terrifies me. I need His blessing on my life. I need His Spirit working in my heart. For God to become my enemy instead of my friend is an unbearable thought…but according to this verse, that is exactly what He will become if I refuse to reach out to “the least of these” in my life.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. – Matthew 25:37-40
This was personal to Jesus and it should be personal to us too. What one thing can you do today or this week to extend Christ’s love to someone in need?
Photo Credit: Venetian Mask photo taken by Sorina Bindea, RomaniaMasquerade lyrics source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/p/thephantomoftheoperalyrics/masqueradelyrics.html