All people possess a set of masks. And, all people use those mask. We wear several masks every day. Masks exist to conceal. We hide behind masks. By using our masks, we attempt to control how well other people know us. Typically, we allow a person to know us as well as we want him or her to know us.

How well I allow you to know me depends on how secure I feel with you. So, a person has one mask for strangers, another for acquaintances, another for friends, another for best friends, and a special set of masks for family members.

We wear some masks so frequently that we are not even aware that we have them on. Other masks are put on deliberately, consciously. We wear these masks because we fear the dangers of someone knowing us too well. Sometimes we wear a mask to protect self, and sometimes we wear a mask in the attempt to hide something. Sometimes we wear a mask to hide from ourselves; sometimes we wear a mask to hide from others; and sometimes we wear a mask to hide from God.

The number one reason for wearing masks is to hide.

  1. If we place our lives in Jesus by accepting his forgiveness, he extends many unique, wonderful blessings.
    1. One of the wonderful blessings that he gives us is this: he liberates us from the need to hide.
      1. In the introduction of the gospel of John, the writer explains the significance of Jesus.
      2. In stating Jesus' significance, John writes in 1:9:
        "There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."
        1. When we hide, we hide in a dark place--not in the light.
        2. As true light, Jesus did not come to enlighten people to destroy them; he came to enlighten people to save them.
        3. By coming as the true light, Jesus had a primary objective: that objective was to enlighten persons.
        4. Enlightening situations, or enlightening circumstances, or enlightening issues, or enlightening causes was not his primary objective.
        5. Jesus enlightens persons; as a result of enlightening persons, situations, circumstances, issues, and causes improve.
        6. Jesus enlightens each person who places his or her life in Jesus.
          1. God doesn't need enlightening -- God already sees and understands.
          2. It is the person who needs enlightening; I am the one who is in the dark.
      3. In John 3:19-21, Jesus said to Nicodemus,
        "And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
        1. Simply because the light has come does not mean that I am enlightened.
        2. My deeds are my basic expressions of me; if my deeds are evil, I do not want to be enlightened; I prefer the darkness; I love the darkness.
        3. I hate the light because I don't want to be exposed.
        4. But if I practice the truth--we are still talking about deeds--I come to the light.
        5. By conscious choice I seek to be enlightened.
        6. I want my life and my deeds to be exposed--not for praise, but I want it to be clearly evident that God is reconstructing my life and my deeds.
    2. In Jesus' statement to Nicodemus, I want you to carefully note some specifics.
      1. Jesus said that I do more than bring my teachings to the light, more than bring my beliefs to the light--that is good, but that is not enough.
      2. Jesus said I bring myself to the light.
      3. Why is it important to bring myself to the light? For two obvious reasons.
        1. To the degree that I do not want to see and know myself, to that degree I love the darkness.
        2. The basic objective of faith in Christ is a life of repentance.
        3. Repentance is both the act and the process of redirecting my life.
        4. It is impossible for me to redirect my life if I refuse to be enlightened.
        5. If I hate the evil within me, I come to the light--I don't want to hide; I want to see me; I want to see and know the truth about me.
        6. It is only when I see and understand that I can repent and be liberated from the fear that causes me to hide.
    3. One of the great spiritual deficiencies among Christians is caused by a choice we make: our choice of where to place our spiritual focus.
      1. Many Christians keep our spiritual focus on what we believe.
        1. Certainly, what we believe is extremely important.
        2. Certainly, what we believe must be biblical, must respect the authority of scripture.
        3. But, when we place our spiritual focus on what we believe, we place our spiritual focus on matters outside of self--as persons, we are not enlightened just by focusing on beliefs.
      2. While we must be concerned about our beliefs, we must be even more concerned about ourselves.
        1. When my primary focus is on what I am, I must examine myself.
        2. I am constantly seeking to let Jesus enlighten me.
        3. If I do not allow Jesus to enlighten me as a person, all that I believe can quickly become irrelevant to God.
      3. When the focus of my faith in Jesus is on me, I don't want to hide; I want to be enlightened; I want to see and understand myself.

  2. For many years of my adult life I knew I had an unreasonable drive within me to prove something that I never could prove.
    1. I knew that drive consumed me, but I had no idea why the drive was there, what I was trying to prove, or to whom I was trying to prove it.
      1. I did know that I could never fulfill the drive, that I could never prove whatever it was that I was trying to prove.
        1. No matter how hard I worked, I never worked hard enough.
        2. No matter how much I sacrificed, I never sacrificed enough.
        3. No matter how much I did for other people, I never did enough.
      2. Though for years I did not know it, I now understand that those are the classic expressions of conditional love.
        1. Our society is saturated with the concept of conditional love--the majority think love is conditional.
        2. The concept of conditional love declares that "I can be loved only if I deserve to be loved."
        3. Any love a person receives depends on the person's performance or on the person pleasing the one who loves him or her.
        4. "Only if I am super wife will my husband love me."
          1. "I must do everything better than his mom."
          2. "I must be superior to all other women that he meets."
          3. "Only then can he love me."
        5. "Only if I am super husband will my wife love me."
          1. "I must make enough to afford everything she wants."
          2. "I must provide for her better than other men could."
          3. "Only then can she love me."
        6. "Only if I am super parent can my children love me."
          1. "I must give them all the things other kids have."
          2. "I must create opportunities for them that other kids don't have."
          3. "Only then can they love me."
        7. "Only if I am super child will my parents love me."
          1. "I must achieve more in school than other kids."
          2. "I must participate in at least one thing in which I can be the best."
          3. "Only then can my parents love me."
    2. I did not know it, but my life was filled with the insecurities of conditional love.
      1. Understanding why took years of being enlightened.
      2. My father loved me and blessed my life in many, many ways.
        1. But I grew up feeling like I never met his expectations.
        2. I grew up wanting his approval and never feeling like I had it.
        3. I knew he loved me, but I always felt a distance between us.
      3. When I was about ten years old, I learned for the first time that I had an older brother who died before I was born.
        1. Ray's death devastated my Dad--so much so that I never heard my Dad say his name until my Dad was critically ill.
        2. From birth, Ray was the picture of health; then suddenly, in a week, he died near the age of two.
        3. From birth, I was the picture of illness, and never really became healthy until I was around sixteen years of age.
        4. Dad was so deeply grieved by the death of Ray that emotionally he was unable to form an attachment to me.
        5. Emotionally, he could not survive the death of another son.
      4. Understanding that has been the second most liberating understanding in my life.
        1. It released me from the unreasonable driving force within.
        2. I have stopped tying to prove that which cannot be proven.
        3. I can love my Dad with an appreciation I never had before.
        4. It all happened because I was enlightened; Jesus taught me that the light liberates.

  3. "Well, is the liberation of being enlightened really that important?" Oh, yes! It is extremely important to all of us.
    1. On the judgment day, we each will stand before the true light; the "real me" will be clearly evident; and nothing will be hidden.
      1. Revelation 6:14-17 says the sky will be rolled up like a roll of paper towels, that mountains and islands will move, and people from the most important to the least important will cry out for the rocks and the mountains to hide them:
        "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"
      2. But Peter said to Christians in 1 Peter 4:13:
        "To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation."
    2. So what is the difference? When Christ returns, some are screaming to be hidden and some are rejoicing. Why?
      1. Those who loved the darkness want to hide when the true light returns because they spent their lives hiding from the light.
      2. Those who have been enlightened have nothing to hide because they have spent their lives coming to the light.

"David, you said that your second most liberating understanding was understanding your father's grief when your oldest brother died. What is your most liberating understanding?"

My most liberating understanding is the most liberating understanding anyone can have. God's love is not conditional. In God's love, you have nothing to prove. In God's love, you become; you don't prove. And you become through the repentance that happens because you dare come to the light.

We are confused about many things in life. But we are really confused if we think there is blessing in hiding or blessing in darkness. Hiding doesn't accomplish anything. Avoiding makes life more complicated.
There is a place to destroy the need to hide. Jesus, the Light, will give you life instead of fear. Have you come to the Light? Or are you still trying to hide? Don't hide anymore. Pursue the Light. End the deception. Find the joy in repentance.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 17 August 1997

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