Do I Have to Wear the Church Mask?
I don’t mean the me who has bad days and tells other people everything is fine when they ask, “How are you?” They didn’t really care about how my day was so it was appropriate to give a passing answer in return.
I don’t even mean the me who has messed up and desires to be authentic. The church culture has talked about that until we can all parrot the standard lines.
I am talking about being me – the nearly 40 year old, white male who lives in 21st century America. The guy who likes country music and watching baseball… maybe not at the same time. The guy who has a lot of questions and opinions that may not match up with yours.
In short, can I just be me?
I mean, really, how can you ever expect me to be transparent and authentic about messy spirituality issues when I can’t be me. Why would you expect me to share how my day is really going with people I think are as plastic as I feel when it comes to what I am ‘supposed to be’ inside the 4-walled church?
You see, what I perceive from you is this – I am supposed to be a better version of me on Sunday. The version who dresses up even though it’s the weekend. The version who has read his bible every day and prayed for every lost soul during the past week. The version who likes every song the choir sings and amens all the points in the pastor’s 3 point outline. The person who has invited all of his neighbors and the gas station attendant to next week’s churchy function. You know.. that version that would never _______ ( you can fill in the blank).
What I perceive is that you really want me to look like all those people around me who have their masks on too. Some of them we may need to remove the masks to see if they are still alive because I think I see ivy wrapping around their ankles and the bottom of the pew that they have been assigned to the last 20 years. I think others are snoring behind their masks – they checked out right after the egg casserole was served in Sunday School class.
Can I share a few things about this mask? It doesn’t fit very well. I don’t really want to look like your church did 70 years ago and I don’t need the ‘religious’ version of self-help in 40 days because it just feels like plaster in the cracks of this mask. You know what? I don’t really want to be hip either because I forgot what that looked like 20 years ago. I think some of the hip maskers forgot what it looked like too because they really just look cheesy in their masks. Of course, the lights and fog are a good attempt at disguise.
You know, it’s funny… you told me Jesus loved me. That He wanted a relationship with me. Which version of me were you talking about? The real me or the version you want me to be?
Hey.. don’t get me wrong. I really like your Jesus and I am digging your bible. I just don’t get your masks.
You are all beginning to look the same.. and the shame of it is, you don’t look much like your Jesus.
Do I really have to wear the church mask?