But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator….
– Colossians 3:8-10 (Berean Study Bible)
The day was cold and nearing dusk as my daughter and I walked briskly along the river front.
The wind danced around us as if delighted at its power to make us pull our jackets closer and turn back toward the car sooner than we’d planned. A few others were out in the waning light, the usual stoic-faced joggers, people glued to their cell phones, and a grizzled couple with their dog. We exchanged polite smiles with the walkers we met who were going the other way, and I wondered at the social custom that requires face-to-face congeniality on a bike path among strangers who would soon be in our respective cars fighting over a lane change. It’s easier to be mad at people when we can’t see their faces.
When people get close, it’s hard to stay detached. Proximity to others requires us to recognize and respond to their humanity. It’s much easier to hide behind the mask of anonymity. It’s our safe place, the face we both hide behind and present to the world.
The current political climate is a bitter reminder of how ugly we can be from behind the mask.
Social media makes it easy to say things to the screen that we would never say to a person’s face. People have long called alcohol “liquid courage.” Today we could add the glow of a screen to the list of drugs that bolster a weak man’s bravado.
Those of us who are believers know this isn’t right. The mask is the old man, the one that Jesus Christ came to set upon the Cross with Himself. The old man is crucified with the Lord; the new man has been raised with Him. We can paint and powder and wax and dress up the mask, but it’s still a decaying corpse.
Our Lord took a breathtaking risk in coming to earth as a man. The King of all the universe was not content to sit safely behind the veil His divinity bestowed upon Him. He stepped out from the glory and became vulnerable to the assaults and indignities of this world. He did it for us, because He loved us more than He loved His reputation. He was willing to risk everything for our healing. He never once walked by someone who might be hurting because it was too risky for Him.
He took this love all the way to the Cross. And He took us with Him. We are crucified with Him, and we have no excuse to live in the deadness of the old life.
God calls us to take off the mask, to let the resurrection man in us reflect the power and exquisite life of a remarkable creator. Today’s a new day. Release the beautiful.