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  • Rick LoPresti

The mask

The Bible is meant to be understood (Prov 22:20-21). The main thing we are to understand is our relationship with God (Deut 28:58, Josh 1:8, Josh 23:6, Jn 20:31, Rom 1:17, Rom 15:4, 1Pet 5:12, 1Jn 5:13). In order to have a proper relationship with God, we must understand some things about His nature and existence, primarily that God is one (Deut 6:4). The plain language of scripture bears this out over and over. There is nothing in the Bible about persons in the Godhead. God is a Spirit (Jn 4:24). He is one Spirit (Eph 4:4). That Spirit overshadowed the virgin Mary and caused her to conceive, thus becoming the Father of Christ (Mt 1:18-20, Lk 1:35). That same Spirit then inhabited that body, thus making Christ God the Father in a human body (Jn 14:7-11, 2Cor 5:19, Col 2:9, 1Tim 3:16). John 1:1-3 and 14 make it clear that the Word is the Creator/Father/ God made flesh, not another person. Note also that the word persons is not in this verse or any verse regarding the Godhead. It does appear 56 times in the KJV, but always refers to more than one man, never to multiplicity in the Godhead. The singular word person also appears 56 times. Its original connotation was that of a mask that an actor would wear in a performance in order to play more than one character. He would change masks according to the role he was playing at that point. He would wear the face of the character. Although God is not a person in the normal sense, this definition of the word person better describes how God has revealed Himself than does the modern one. God has not revealed himself in 3 separate and distinct co-existing persons, but in different aspects and terms of relationship. The singular word person appears 3 times in the KJV in relation to God (Job 13:8, 2Cor 2:10, and Heb 1:3). In Job it is the Hebrew word paniym which literally means face. This is the same word God spoke to Moses in Ex 33:20-23. First, this is not a literal face. God did not have a body before Jesus was conceived (Ps 110:1, Heb 10:5). God is everywhere (Ps 139:7-10). God was telling Moses he could not handle the fullness of God’s direct presence. Second, it’s still only one, not three. In 2Cor 2:10 it is the Greek word prosopon which also means face. We can see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). It could also be interpreted as countenance or presence. Again, it is one person and not three. In Heb 1:3 it is the Greek word hupostasis, which means essence or substance. Once again, there is nothing of co-equal persons. Rather, these verses show God revealed in one person - the Lord Jesus Christ. None of these references has any explicit or implicit reference to more than one person in the Godhead. It is impossible for the trinitarian to explain exactly what the distinctions in the persons are without exposing the tritheistic nature of his doctrine. Each person must have the qualities that make a separate and entire being, thus 3 gods. He then falls back on 2 unscriptural arguments. The first is that the 3 persons share the same nature and essence. This would then render each of them not a person. The second is that this is the mystery of the Godhead, which is a “cop out”. The mystery of the Godhead is not that we cannot understand how 3 persons can make up one God, it is that God was manifest in the flesh (1Tim 3:16).

God put on a "mask" when it was time for Him to reveal Himself to man. That was the flesh He manifested Himself in. We also put on masks, but they are to conceal ourselves. It is inevitable that we will be hurt by others. Jesus said it must needs be, and it is impossible that it be otherwise (Mt 18:7, Lk 17:1). It is not the will of God for us to hurt each other, but He is also realistic about it. So the question is not, "Will we get hurt?" It is "when?" and "by whom?" Sadly, the old songs says, " You always hurt the ones you love, the ones you shouldn't hurt at all." Our enemies aren't the source of our deepest wounds. We expect our enemies to try to hurt us. It is when it comes from those we don't expect it to - the ones we love and trust - that it hurts the most. So what do we do when this happens. A typical response is to put on a mask. We cover up our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, our pain, our shame, and our failures. We put an emotional safety barrier between us and others, and even God. It is a mask. We pretend all is good when it is not. When people ask how we are, we say "great". When this is just exchanging greetings as we pass, that is one thing; but when it becomes our coping mechanism, we are missing out on the freedom and wholeness God wants us to have. Trust must indeed be earned, and we do not need to be foolish to be trusting; but we are shortchanging ourselves out of really living if we just put on a mask as away of sidestepping the issues of our hearts. We do not have to embrace a victim mentality, but we should not just pretend we are fine when we are not, and when our relationships with God and others are dysfunctional. God wants to give us more than just a coping mechanism. He wants to make us whole.

The best place to start the process of taking off our mask is with God. He is innocent. He never treated anyone unfairly. He goes way beyond fairness to grace and mercy. He loves us when we don't even love ourselves. He loves us when our lifestyle is in direct enmity against Him (Rom 5:8). He has never wronged anyone. He deserves our full trust, and we can be open and honest with Him. He knows all about us anyway (Acts15:8, Heb 4:13). He knows our hearts better than we do (Jer 17:9-10). So there is no need or purpose to trying to wear a mask with God. All it does is hinder us. After we open up to God and He heals us, we can also learn from the wisdom of God how to properly open up to others. We need relationships with people. Not all relationships will be close and confiding. In fact, most won't be; but we all need at least a few people we can take our mask off with and just be real. God works directly with us, but He also works through people. The church is the body of Christ (Rom 12, 1Cor 12). We need to be connected to the body to be a living, functioning part. Just because someone attends gatherings of the church does not mean they are a good choice for a confidant, but we should not shut everyone out either. There are casual acquaintances, somewhat superficial friends, and close ones. To have a balanced, whole life, we need them all. Sometimes keeping the mask up can be exhausting. God will provide the right opportunities to take it off and get real. All Christians should be genuine and not phony, but keeping up appearances only works for so long. Eventually what is in our hearts comes out. It is better to deal with it the right way with God involved than to try to contain until the mask breaks in a bad way at a bad time. God is not our enemy. He came to make us whole (Lk 4:16-21). We can take our mask off with Him. The only mask He wore before us was not to hide Himself, but to reveal Himself to us. We can respond with some openness too.

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