WHO ARE WE BEHIND THE MASKS?
By DANNY MINTON
When the knock came on the door just as it was getting dark, I was taken by surprise as I saw two people about my size staring at me through plastic masks covering their faces. I was around three, and it was the first Halloween that I remember. I remember at that point my mother decorating my face with rouge and lipstick so I would look like a clown; then we went to about a half dozen neighbors for my first “trick or treat” experience.
Nowadays when I open the door, there are witches and goblins, ghosts and ghouls, clowns and princesses and stormtroopers and superheroes. Masks cover their faces as they portray some fictional character they have come to know.
I know there are some who don’t like Halloween. I’ve heard preachers preach against dressing up as ghosts, witches, and monsters. What effect will this have on our kids! Well, in my opinion, if it means anything, not much. You see I’ve been passing out candy now for over fifty years, from about the time I was too old to go collecting it for myself. I have greeted many a ghost, skeleton, princess, pumpkin, monster, cartoon character, clown and such at the door. Some of them have been scary and ugly while others have been cute or pretty. What I’ve found out that almost without exception, no matter how they looked on the outside every one of them told me “thank you” when I put candy in their bag, even the big ones!
You see who we are is not based on our outward appearance. It’s what is in our hearts that counts. Without a mirror, I can only see myself from the inside, so I don’t really know what you see when you look at me physically. Maybe you see mustard on my mouth, messed up hair or a scar where I had chickenpox as a child. You can see it, I can’t. But no matter how I look on the outside that doesn’t matter as long as you see the true me when I say “thank you.”
Oh, wait! Remember the masks? What bothers me much more than Halloween masks are the masks that people wear on Sunday morning. These are those that have a pretty mask on that makes them look like Jesus for a short period of time. Then on Monday morning, the mask is removed, and they retreat back to the ways of the world. The face may look okay, but the heart has a long way to go. Like the masks of Haloween, they are only temporary, hiding the true face behind. The word “hypocrite” actually refers to an actor, one who wears a mask. It is someone who is playing a part by looking and acting differently than they are on the inside.
Jesus confronted the Sadducees and Pharisees and told them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
In the same way, on the outside, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)
If I get right to it, I’d rather be told “thank you” by a ghost or kind witch anytime over the other. Mainly because behind the ugly mask usually lies a beautiful heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ