What Kind of Mask Are You Wearing?
by Michael J. Penfold
Once the fringe activity of a cautious minority, mask wearing – with the encouragement of HM Government – has now gone mainstream.
Yet, the truth is, long before COVID-19 we were already masters at wearing masks, albeit of a very different kind.
If your response to the question “Do you believe in God?” is “I’m an atheist”, then yours is a secular mask. Mask? Yes, the Bible is clear; atheists aren’t for real, they’re pretending. Romans 1:20 describes humanity’s history in three words: “They knew God”. How come? Because human beings are made in the image of God and are born with a sensus divinitatis (a sense of the Divine). I don’t need to try to convince you that God exists; deep down in your heart you already know it.
Secularists usually first don their masks in their teens. To stay cool, to fit in and to enter fully into the hedonistic pleasures of youth, they start pretending God isn’t there. But it’s all an act – and they know it. Sadly, for most, the pretense lasts a lifetime until finally, deadened by years of mask-wearing, the ‘atheist’ stumbles carelessly out of the world into eternity. What then?
“After death the judgment” (Heb 9:27).
What good is a mask when you’re face to face with the Almighty?
That’s why the Bible says only a fool would tell himself there’s no God (Psa 14:10). That’s why it’s time to stop pretending, take off your secular mask and face up to the reality of God. Forsake your self-centred sinful ways, and turn to God through His Son Jesus Christ. Ascribe to God the glory due to His name.
But maybe your response to the question “Do you believe in God?” is “Yes. I was born a Christian. I go to church. I try to be a good person”. That’s a different kind of mask. That’s a spiritual mask. A lot of people pay lip-service to Jesus, the Bible and church. They know what to say when they meet their local vicar or priest. They may even have been christened and confirmed. But deep down it’s another story. Behind the thin veneer of respectability is a heart the Bible describes like this: “The [human] heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). Deceitful? Yes. In self-righteously papering over the cracks of our lives, we are pretending to be what we are not.
Unless there has been a moment in your life when you were born again and transformed by receiving new life in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your spiritual mask is, it won’t save you on the day of judgment. Pleading with the Lord on that final day, many religious people will say, “Please let me in! I have done lots of good things in your name.” But peeling the mask off, the Judge of the universe will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23).
The Bible is replete with stories of ‘mask-wearers’. The world’s very first humans, Adam and Eve, were found hiding from God with a covering of fig leaves. Jacob, Ahab, Saul and “the wife of King Jeroboam” all disguised themselves. And then there’s Judas, who successfully but fraudulently passed off as a disciple for 3 years, until he could hide it no longer.
King David, after committing adultery and murder, tried to wear a mask of respectability for several months but eventually came clean with these words: “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee [God], Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Psa 51:3-4). David was done with his mask: and if you are ever to be blessed by God and experience true forgiveness, you’ll need to be done with yours too.
In a key Bible passage known as the “parable of the sower”, Christ speaks of the kind of person who becomes a genuine disciple of His. In contrast to those who hear His message and simply ignore it, or make a shallow inadequate response to it, the genuine ones listen and respond positively with an “honest” heart (Luke 8:15). Note the pertinent and challenging word honest. Whether you have been sporting a secular or a spiritual mask, it’s urgent that you come clean today, own up to your personal guilt, and cast yourself on the mercy of God.
Through the one sacrifice for sins that Jesus Christ offered on the cross for all of humanity, there is a way back to God for those who repent and believe in Him for salvation. The gracious promise of God is as trust-worthy as it is amazing: “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:6-7).
Your mask can’t stay on forever. Either you take it off now in repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or God will remove it later when the opportunity to be saved has passed. I urge you to take seriously God’s gracious call to come to Christ today. Now is the moment to get right with God. “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).
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