Christians are some of the happiest people I know (well, most that I have encountered). They are always there to lend a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. They sing the most heartfelt/ warming songs in their services and have the most welcoming smiles. On the surface, they’re seemingly perfect. Being a Christian myself, I have done my best to fit in with the Christian persona. But a lot of the time, despite all of the joyful qualities, I find that Christians are some of the hardest people to relate to.
I’ve known for a long time what people expected Christians to be like. It is essential Christian character to always have your life together. My emotions, actions, speech, and thoughts all have to be in check. Real, healthy Christians are always happy, have the right answers and are extremely nice. But sometimes I’m not happy and don’t have the right answers. Sometimes I’m not the nicest person (more times than I’m actually willing to admit). This always left me frustrated and I constantly felt like I was a failure. It was impossible for me to be perfect and I had a hard time keeping up with the expectation that I was supposed to be.
Whether you’ve experienced this Christian paradigm or not, we have all felt the pressure to act a part based on what the people around us deem as acceptable. We have a hard time being honest with ourselves and others about how we really feel and what we really think. The truth is that we struggle with fitting into the mold of perfection; Being the perfect Christian or student or parent, etc. When we admit that everything is actually not perfect, we admit to weakness. Nobody likes to admit they are weak or inadequate. So, we hide the truth. We put on masks to hide what’s really happening and pretend that we have everything together.
We often fail to realize or remember that God knows the truth. No matter how hard we try to hide it. The only thing hiding does is hinder us from what can truly help us.The more we try to hide our shame, fear, and inadequacies the more we hold onto them; The more they fester within us.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve tried to hide their sin from God by covering themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). They sew together clothing from easily perishable material in a feeble and slightly humorous attempt to cover the state they were in. It may seem laughable but we ourselves do this all of the time. We hide everything behind false smiles, good deeds, and worldly success. But our attempts to hide are as ridiculous as Adam and Eve’s.
The New Testament tells us a story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman alone at a well. In their discussion, he offers her living water that will make her never thirst again; eternal life (John 4:13-15). She’s all game but doesn’t fully get it until Jesus reveals that this woman was an adulteress, having many husbands. Then, he reveals that he’s the Messiah and in her excitement, she tells the town about Jesus. The interesting part of this episode is that she’s excited about all of her dirty laundry being exposed by God. This is a woman who has been rejected by society. She goes to collect water alone instead of going with a group of women which was traditionally done. She was likely shamed and lonely. God brought all of her sin, shame, and pain out in the open and it freed her. Not because she simply had someone to confide in but because of who he was and what he could do with her exposed sin. He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Bringing out all that she was bottling up inside merely gave the opportunity for him to take care of it for her. He could save her (John 4:39-42)
In the Garden of Eden, after God had confronted them and revealed the consequences of their disobedience, he replaces their fig leaf covering with garments of skins. He clothes them with garments of (animal) flesh that will cover their nakedness more efficiently than what they had come up with. (Genesis 3:21)
Jesus covers our sin in a similar fashion. We desperately try to hide and take care of everything ourselves. We put on masks to make everyone think we’re ok. We attempt to lie to God and put on a show. But when all of our sin and shame and brokenness is laid out before him, when we take off our masks and allow him to take hold of all that we have been hiding (but that he’s seen all along), he covers us. God took animal skins, sacrificed flesh to replace Adam and Eve’s fig leaves and properly cover them. Jesus sacrificed himself and gave his own flesh and blood to replace our masks and properly and permanently cover our sins.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30