Radical Unmasking

“God’s blessing can’t get on who you’re pretending to be: just who you really are.” – Levi Lusko

Who are you? Really. Deeply. Who truly are you. Not who you are pretending to be. When you take off your mask of performanism or people pleasing, what are you left with? Where us your heart at? Are you covering up a heart that honors God because you’re afraid of what your friends would think? Or are you covering up darkness with a false light? A mask of pretend qualities.

Either way, we’re in a terrible position for blessing. In a recent episode on focus on the family, Pastor Levi Lusko used the example of painting a room. We tape, or mask, trim and whatnot that we don’t want to get paint on. It’s a similar situation with us and God’s blessing. Anything we’re hiding behind, he can’t access. We have free will and God is a gentleman. He won’t shine in on anyplace in our life that he isn’t invited. If we’re hiding behind a mask that we find comfort in, we’re also hiding ourselves from blessing.

Unmasking is terrifying. There is no question about it. We are left vulnerable and exposed. While we are vulnerable to judgment and criticism, we also in the task of exposing ourselves lay vulnerable to the blessings and workings of God in our lives. It’s a reward that is worth the risk.

The first part of the Sermon on the Mount highlights the characteristics of the unmasked. Jesus points out all these unattractive attributes and attitudes and calls them blessed. Poor? Meek? Persecuted? These miserable sounding things that we would rather shove under a rug or cover with a fake smile are the very things God wants to see in order to bless us. Let’s dive deeper into each aspect.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

Who wants to be poor? No one. So we work hard to gain money and status. We buy ourselves great things that show the world that we have many things and achieved much. We strive to be seen as anything but poor.

We do the same in our spiritual lives. We do all these great works to put on a show that in essence says, “I will earn my way to heaven.” But Jesus says its the poor in spirit that will have the kingdom of heaven. Nothing we do or say will gain us eternal life. It it by Christ alone that we receive salvation. The poor in spirit recognize their need for God and their utter hopelessness without him. We must remove our mask of self security.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

If you’ve had a loss of any sort, you’re no stranger to mourning. There aren’t words yo describe the ache in your heart. Unless another has gone through the very same thing, most don’t get it. It is then much easier to mourn in hiding or pretend you’re not mourning at all.

In this passage, Jesus is addressing the mourning that we do over sin. With that in mind, mourning just became increasingly less attractive. It’s easier to not think about our wrongdoings. But when we hide from our sins, we don’t find comfort. They naw at us unceasingly. On the contrary, if we unveil them and repent with a pure heart, we are promised to be freeed and redeemed from our sin. We will finally find comfort and rest from our battles. We must remove our mask of self righteousness.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

Meek is an ugly word. It sounds like weakness. And we’re seeing a pattern here that we humans really don’t care for weakness or dependence, yet that is what Jesus calls “blessed.” If meekness equals weakness, so we really want to be blessed?

What Jesus was referring to in Matthew when he called us to be meek, he wasn’t saying weak. God is meek yet the most powerful being that ever was. To be meek means to be quiet, gentle, and have self control. You could contain power and strength beyond measure yet still be meek because in a sense, meekness is power under control. I believe what Jesus was saying when he said “inherit the earth” he meant that not only will we be with him in heaven one day, but we will also be apart of him manifesting himself on earth today. God is blessing the meek by using them to change the world and further his kingdom! If that doesn’t get you excited about meekness, I don’t know what will. We must first though remove our mask of egotism.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

It’s easy to live passive. It’s easy to not care for others or even our own underlying needs. We say we’re minding our own business. We say that’s not our problem. We say we’ll deal with it later. Yet we live unfulfilled lives.

When we’re deeply hungry or thirsty we have a digging passion to satisfy our needs. Jesus calls us to be passionate about our own righteousness. When was the last time you had a deep yearning to obey God? When were you last starving for more of him? Parched for his voice? We end up needing to expose ourselves as little without him to dive deeper into him. But we are then filled by proclaiming how empty we are. We must remove our mask of perfection.

In may versions, this verse also says justice. How often do we fight against injustice? Or do we accept it as apart of life? Here, we are not only blessed if we seek God in our own personal journey, but we are filled when we fight for those who cannot. The essence of the Sermon on the Mount is to compel us to become more Christ like. If we are not seeking out justice for others, we are missing a huge part of our call to righteousness. We must remove our mask of apathy.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7

We memorized the golden rule as kids, but how readily do we apply it?

“Rachel, you don’t know what they did to me.” No, but have you thought lately how deeply you’ve broken God’s heart? God sent his son to die for each of us: the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, knowing this, we continue to persist in many sins. How crushing that must be! Just as we are broken over and over by a spouse or a friend that we dearly love but repeatedly hurts us, so is God hurt by us. Yet he is merciful. Therefore we should be equally as ready to show others mercy. The freedom from our own sin is worth freeing others from our condemnation. We must remove our mask of hate.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for the will see God.

Matthew 5:8

I have a white shirt that I love. One day while at a family gathering I spilled some food on it. I tried rubbing it out, but it stayed. For the rest of the evening, I had my arms crossed in efforts to hide it. But any time I removed my not so subtle covering, it was highly visible. So is it with our hearts.

Purity is black and white. Something either is or isn’t pure. There’s no room for grey. No matter how we hide the stains on our heart, in our mind, or throughout our emotions, they are there and they are guaranteed to be seen sooner or later. God who is holy beyond compare, cannot reside with our filth. In order to see God, we need to be washed in the blood of Christ and rely on the Holy Spirit to help us maintain a pure heart. We must remove our mask of grey area.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9

I think we all know someone who seems to love strife. They take confrontation to a new level. They’re always in a fight and seeking out drama. Likely they’re the town gossip and in the gossip themselves.

You might be thinking, “whew! That’s not me!” Great! But we’re called to be more than just people who stay out of trouble. We’re to help ease the trouble. It’s one thing to not be in the gossip, but its another to have the gossip stop with you. As much as God deeply loves us, he loves our neighbor just as deeply, regardless of how we feel about them. God wants us to live in unity but that is impossible if his people don’t step up to ending strife. Whether we’re in the fight or we’re passive bystanders, to be affectionately called his child, we need to take action to make peace. We must remove our mask of being detached.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

All of the things Jesus told us are blessed don’t sound great, but this is definitely the worst. Which is likely why he said the most about it. Most of us are accustom to a life of ease. We look for the path of least resistance. Sometimes if that means even being a little quiet about this “crazy Jesus thing,” so be it. We’re not really denying Christ; just maybe we can mention him less.

To get a life with more blessing, we cannot have less of Jesus…and all that comes with him. We were not promised an easy life. We were in fact promised troubles in this world. The world will hate us! They’ll spit on us, insult us, lie about us, torture us, and do anything possible to try to shut us up. And while they are doing this we can rejoice because we know then that we are doing something right! As disciples of Christ, we’re called up to the standard, the persecution, and ultimately the blessings that he also has. But we won’t receive any blessing from God if we are hiding Jesus in our life. We must remove the mask of worldliness.

Blessings can’t penetrate our masks. If we want to be a walled off fortress so that we might avoid pain or conflict, that is our right. Though we should know all we are walling off. Who are you keeping out of your life? I hope you deeply evaluate that and open in areas so that you might receive the goodness of God into your life.

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