When I was a kid, I loved to watch Florida Federation Wrestling. I know it was fake. I knew, then, it was fake. But, I loved the action. I loved the moves. Mostly, I loved the characters.
In particular, I remember the “bad guy” wrestlers that wore masks. There was always a lot of mystery about who was behind the mask. Every time one of them wrestled, I hoped they would lose, and that the victor would successfully pull off their mask and reveal who the mystery wrestler was – before being hit over the head with a folding chair by one of the masked wrestler’s friends.
When I was a kid, I was also a fan of the rock band KISS. Their music was never really great – but the costumes and make-up were awesome!
I still remember when they took off the make-up for a few years, revealing real faces.
I was glad when they put the makeup back on!
I’m also a fan of comic book superheroes. I was, when I was a kid. And, I still am.
Like masked wrestlers and KISS, many superheroes wear masks to conceal their true identity.
The primary reason superheroes conceal their true identities is to protect the people they love. After all, if the Joker found out the Batman is Bruce Wayne, he might blow-up Wayne Enterprises. If the Scorpion found out Spiderman is Peter Parker, he might kidnap Aunt Jane. And, so forth, and so on…
The point is, even with their amazing super-powers, superheroes wear masks to protect their weaknesses and vulnerabilities – namely, the people they love.
Superheroes aren’t the only ones who wear masks. We all do. All of us wear some kind of mask to hide and protect our weaknesses, fears, and vulnerabilities. Sometimes masks are pretending to be something we’re not. Sometimes masks are hiding secrets we’re ashamed of. Sometimes masks are presenting a better image than is actually true, like the fantastical/fictional lives portrayed by many of us on social media.
We wear masks to hide our shame. Shame is a lie, whispered in our ears by our arch enemy…
- I’m the only one.
- I’m not good enough.
- You won’t like me.
- I’m all alone.
- No one cares.
The first humans to attempt to hide their shame was a couple named Adam and Eve. They did something they weren’t supposed to do, and were so ashamed of their mistake they hid in the bushes – from God. It’s really hard to hide from God. God has x-ray vision.
Adam and Eve’s shame was revealed, and they paid the consequences for their mistake. But, the consequences were pretty bad for them, and for everyone that’s come after them. One of the consequences is that we’re still ashamed and we think we still need to hide.
But, the Bible says, when we hide in shame, God comes looking for us. When Jesus came, he was searching for people hiding from God. The story is a bit complicated, but the Bible says Jesus took our shame away from us when he died on the cross, and when he beat death by coming back to life.
Earlier, I mentioned superheroes wearing masks to conceal their true identity. Most superheroes started life as average, normal people, only discovering their superpowers later. But, there is an exception.
Superman has always been Superman. Actually, his real name is Kal-el. He’s a refugee from the planet Krypton. On Krypton, Kal-el wouldn’t have had superpowers, because Krypton had a red sun. But, under our yellow sun, Kal-el has remarkable super-powers. From an early age, Kal-el’s adopted parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, felt the need to protect Kal-el’s alien identity. So, they named him Clark, and over time Clark Kent adopted a human identity to conceal who he actually is.
Superman doesn’t wear a mask. Clark Kent does – thick glasses, social awkwardness, and general nerdy-ness.
Bruce Wayne puts on a mask to become Batman. Superman puts on glasses and a business suit to become Clark Kent. See the difference?
How many of us do the same?
You and I are more like Superman than Batman. How cool is that?
We are sons and daughters of God, made in his image and likeness, invested with incredible abilities and potential. But, because we feel insecure and ashamed, we put on masks to conceal who God created us to be. By doing so, we hide from the world and ourselves who we really are.
There’s no more need for hiding in shame!
Romans 8: 1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
But, in spite of our new freedom in Christ to rip off our masks, most of us are still hiding. Even though we have nothing to be ashamed of, because of Christ, most of us still FEEL pretty shameful.
Which leads me, at last, to one of my favorite quotes, by Marianne Williamson. She writes, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
So, take off your mask. Lay down your shame. Cast off your fear. Come out of the bushes. You are a child of God, with nothing to be ashamed of. Let your light shine! Be who you are!